Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Commodore KIM-1

When I was a kid, single board computers had real appeal as a low cost way into computing, at least until the VIC-20 and the Sinclair ZX80 appeared in the market.

For one thing if you were into electronics, these things had serious nerd appeal.  You could buy these things as kits to solder together, and you got to see the parts in all their glory.

The Commodore MOS KIM-1 is claimed to be the very first commercially available single board computer.  I think it's amazing that they actually sold a lot of these, but why should I be surprised?  Today people are buying these sorts of things all the time, for example the Arduino and the BASIC Stamp can certainly be compared to the KIM-1, and these are well known.

The KIM-1 inspired a whole range of imitators and evolutionary descendants.  For example, the RCA COSMAC VIP and ELF boards; the 6502 based Synertek SYM-1, and even trainers such as the Radio Shack Science Fair Microprocessor Trainer and the famous Heathkit ET-3400.  Perhaps the Heathkit H-8 also qualifies for this category.

So, let's sing a little praise for the unsung Commodore KIM-1 computer!

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