My workbench from 1978 highlighted in EETimes as one of engineering’s messiest desks

EETimes’ Brian Fuller is compiling a set of photos showing the messiest desks and workbenches in engineering. I have a photo I took (on Ektrachrome) back in 1978, of my workbench at HP’s Desktop Computer Division and it is now featured in Fuller’s article. It’s here but here’s the photo.

The picture shows the peripherals and instruments I needed to develop interface cards for the new desktop computers. On the workbench, you’ll see an RS-232 ASCII terminal, an HP 9825A desktop computer with an HP 9866 thermal page printer sitting on top and a soldering iron with a spool of solder and Wire-Wrap gun in front, three power supplies, an HP 9878A I/O expander for the 9825 computer with several I/O cards plugged in, and a digital clock that I built from a National Semiconductor clock module. The clock is installed in a clear prismatic plastic case that started life as the packaging for a pair of men’s briefs. There’s also a Mostek microcontroller emulator tucked into the cave next to the power supply on the far right.

The workbench mezzanine contains a 9875A 4-pen plotter, an HP 180C (fat-beam) scope, two HP digital voltmeters, another power supply sitting atop a chart recorder, a pulse generator, and an 8-inch floppy drive. There’s one more piece of HP gear on top of the pulse generator that I can’t identify. (I later looked it up. It’s an HP 59501A power supply programmer/DAC: HPIB in, analog voltage out.)

The board under test in the lower right part of the image is the first breadboard for a never-produced HP 98037A analog I/O card for HP’s 9825 and 9845 desktop computers. Eventually, the design contained two custom chips: a customized Mostek 3870 microcontroller and a custom thin-film, laser-trimmed precision resistor network built by HP’s Loveland Instrument Division. Hardware design was one person. Software design was one more person. System Realization, SoC Realization, and Silicon Realization circa 1978.


About sleibson2

EDA360 Evangelist and Marketing Director at Cadence Design Systems (blog at
This entry was posted in EDA360, Silicon Realization, SoC Realization, System Realization. Bookmark the permalink.

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