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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-06-2018, 06:48 PM
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Carl... are you sure you're not my long lost old business partner? I'm guessing we're about the same age and our stories are almost identical... and we are both original owners of our 1983 380 sl's. I graduated High School in 1965, and attended the Institute of Computer Technology on Long Island (long gone... not the island, the institute). My first programming job after institute was as an Autocoder programmer (like assembler) for AMF (American Machine and Foundry) Bowling Products Division. Before that I was a board wirer, mostly on IBM Tabulating machines (see photo below).

I too wanted my own computer, so along with a friend we designed, built and marketed one of the first commercially available rack-mounted Microcomputers based on the RCA 1802 processor (see photo below). I still have the computer and yes it still works. We sold exactly none... the cost was way too high at $10,000 bucks but when you consider that the only other computers with any capacity (joke by today's standards) cost hundreds of thousands and required an entire room all to themselves, it wasn't a bad deal. So instead of marketing the computer, we marketed the operating system that we wrote for the 1802. It was called Super Monitor and we provided it 3 ways... on paper tape, on cassette tape (we provided the interface) or on EPROM. We got a letter from some high ranking military guy at the Pentagon wanting to know what it was that we were marketing, so we sent him a copy of the OS on cassette tape and we never heard form him again.

Here is a photo of the board wiring we used to change the "program" on the tabulating machine. All those wires have pins on each end that you plug into holes in the board. The pins stick out the back of the board, and make contact with mating pins on the side of the tabulating machine. It's a little difficult to explain but when we were done wiring the board, we took the board to the tabulating machine and slid it into a holder that had a handle that you pressed down which made the board press up against a zillion pins that stuck out the side of the tabulating machine. That's how we programmed the machine... by making connections... not unlike what the old-time telephone operators did when they plugged the wires into the hole that went to a specific phone, just far more complex.
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Here is a photo of the prototype rack-mounted Microcomputer with all it's peripherals. We named the company Benchmark Computer Systems.
Yes, that's a reel-to-reel tape system in the upper right. Those boards in the cage to the left are the drivers.
The screen is from an old portable television and the keyboard came from an electronic typewriter.
The 16 little dots just below the tape drive are the address lights. Actually 16 little red leds.
The eight switches just above and to the right of the screen are what was used to enter the bootstrap address when the computer was powered on.

RESPECT ... 380SL respect that is ...-benchmark1.jpg

Sorry for rambling, but your post brought back a lot of good memories. Well done.
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-07-2018, 03:49 AM Thread Starter
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Vehicle: 1983 380SL, ivory/dk brown, 46k miles, dual roller timing chain. 1986 560SL, red/white, 190K mile.
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Jyuma, you and I definitely were on parallel paths.
We must be spiritual brothers :-)

I do remember the RCA 1802 - a CMOS microprocessor and I got very interested in it and along with the CMOS based TTL compatible IC line up. I also spent a lot of time at Bell Laboratories in Homdel, NJ. They developed their own line of TTL compatible CMOS chips.

I graduated high school in 1966 and immediately went to Tech School to learn Electronics and then to UNCC - BET Computer Electronics. I graduated before the invention of Microprocessors ... well also before the invention of hand held Calculators too :-) But I took a lot of programming courses that formed the base of my programming gigs. As an aside, I always wondered why I was never drafted as the Vietnam War was going on big time. A few months ago I sent off to the National Archives to get a copy of my Draft Records - boy did I thread the needle with timing of events, deferments and just dumb luck.

Below is a photo of the first single board PC I designed and tried to market in March 1976. It was about the time that Apple came out with their Apple I computer they sold for $666. Note the significance of 666. Living on the east coast in the back woods of innovation (really was) I couldn't find anyone who had manufacturing facilities to work with me.

That PC in 1976 was pretty robust - MOS Technology 6502 microprocessor, 4 KB of Ram, 4KB of EPROM, parallel and serial ports. (4KB was a lot of memory then, but today my desktop PC with 16GB has four million times more memory.) Note the wire jumpers - this board was the first one I etched and the wire jumpers were corrections I needed to make to the mask for the next run. I threw away the masks some time ago as they were done in x4 scale. I had a intuition at the time that this microcomputer could have sold well but couldn't get backing. Many times I wished I grew up in Silicon Valley or Boston with all the electronic manufacturing expertise and adventurous folks. Those were indeed some magical times and I know you remember them too.
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"You have chosen to drive a MERCEDES-BENZ, a car in whose construction and production we have taken great pains because we believe that quality is not a matter of chance." -- page 3, Owners Manual 380SL
Timing Chain, Subframe, wiring harness, Climate Control, Rust prevention, etc.

Last edited by cwmoser; 03-07-2018 at 03:58 AM.
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-07-2018, 06:31 AM
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Carl... they were indeed exciting times. With every day came a new challenge to be overcome.

Apologies to all for going way OT on a forum dedicated to 107's but it's hard to resist the pull of nostalgia.

I too made my own PC bds. Shot and etched the boards in the usual way and then drilled a zillion tiny holes (with a Dremel) to accept the component leads and connections between the top and bottom circuits. There was a company in Florida... I don't remember their name... that sold 4k TTL memory boards. I couldn't afford many, I only bought 3 and adapted them to the bus structure I designed for the Motherboard. I'm calling it a Motherboard but I don't remember if there was any such thing at the time or if it was even called a "Motherboard". lol


Here's a picture showing the 3 memory boards (center standing straight up) plugged into the motherboard. You can't actually see the Motherboard in this picture. It's mounted underneath the aluminum frame that supports the blue bus connectors. The boards on the right are hand wired parallel output ports.
RESPECT ... 380SL respect that is ...-benchmark2.jpg
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-07-2018, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by cwmoser View Post
In the mid 1970s through mid 1980s I was one of the early users of home computers. Back then we called this "microcomputing". In the early days we had to build our computers from chips. I designed and etched my own circuit boards based on the 6502 microprocessor - same one used by Apple, Commodore, Atari, and others. Back then there were no Assembler/Compilers that would run on the the 6502-based microcomputers. To write a program you had to use a Cross Compiler on a mainframe or minicomputer. I was a mainframe programmer professionally and decided I wanted to be able to write programs on my home-made 6502 from my own home made computer. This just could not be done then. So, I wrote a rudimentary Compiler, manually compiled the source code to machine code, and hand entered the machine code as Hex numbers. With this first compiler I used it to boot strap another compiler I wrote that was much better. When I let it be known I had done this, others wanted it and I got $ signs that I could market my creation. Did a test advertisement in a magazine, got some orders, paid my buddies wife to type up a manual, and made some copies of my software on 5.25" floppy disks. That was successful, so we created a company called Eastern House Software, partnered with my buddy who was also a programmer and started advertising that Assembler and some other software we subsequently created. At one point we advertised in 15 hobby computer magazines. I was working at AT&T as a programmer during the day and writing software and running my software company too. It was wild hectic times - but some of my best memories were in those times. Then Pres. Regan came out with this "gift" to businesses where you could write off company cars, boats, and airplanes generously. Was only interested in a "company car". At that time the software products I was selling was doing very well and I needed a write-off. Really wanted that new Corvette that came out in 1983, the 1984 model, but 4-speed was not available. In fact my partner and I both went around trying to do a "two-for" deal on a pair of Corvettes. He did purchase a red 1984. Looked at an MGB but I was too tall to be comfortable. Looked at a Porsche 911T but back then that was sorta "yawn" compared to today - big mistake, a 1983 911 is bringing in big bucks and it cost less than my 380SL. Then read a magazine review of the 380SL that made me interested. Was sold on going with a gray market 280SL or 500SL Euro with manual transmission. Back then you could legally import once in a lifetime a Euro car based on your SSN. My choice a red 280SL manual for $40K, or a red 500SL AMG manual for $50+K - importer out of Connecticut was who I was talking with. Local Mercedes dealer told me some stories about issues with Federalizing them, so I dropped that idea - another wrong move. At that time the 380SL was in huge, huge demand. About everything was pre-sold and any that the dealership got in they worked a list and sold in a day or so. I ordered my 380SL from a dealership in another much smaller city and the only one that offered me 10% discount - ever other dealership was MSRP+. I wanted Light Ivory after watching a movie where the guy picked up a hooker in his Light Ivory R107 :-)

My 380SL has been a very reliable vehicle and has never been towed. I've babied my 380SL since new, always garaged, and probably has never been rained on. I think much more highly of the car and the dealership, and not too approvingly of Mercedes the company - primarily because the company did not stand behind their piss poor single row timing chain.

We rode the coat tails of the Apple II, the Atari, and Commodore Pet series computers. Really took off with the Vic 20 and Commodore 64. All things eventually come to an end. The "end" was the success of the IBM PC. Our little run in the fast lane ended around 1985 as sales slowed considerably and advertising costs rose dramatically. Still kept my job at AT&T and fell back in reality for the rest of my life. It was a wild run with nerds. Fortunately I didn't run into many good looking loose gold digging women (women just wern't interested in this type work back then) and kept my wife and didn't loose everything because of a divorce settlement :-)
Very interesting story. Was the importer in Connecticut F1?

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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-01-2018, 06:03 AM Thread Starter
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Nice 380SL's are bringing some money - another example:
https://bringatrailer.com/listing/19...benz-380sl-10/

Wonder if these are being bought up and transported back to Germany?

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"You have chosen to drive a MERCEDES-BENZ, a car in whose construction and production we have taken great pains because we believe that quality is not a matter of chance." -- page 3, Owners Manual 380SL
Timing Chain, Subframe, wiring harness, Climate Control, Rust prevention, etc.
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post #16 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-01-2018, 09:15 AM
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I wouldn't be surprised. I *was* surprised to see the number of U.S. spec 107s included in the many album pics posted by the Nederlands 107 Club as I scrolled through them. MB R/C 107 club Nederland
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