display | more...
Ahh memories (80's in this case).

I once worked for a small basement maker of medical and laboratory research and diagnostic instruments. Once upon a time we were working on a flashy new device which would incorporate a microprocessor (Z-80) for control.

The company didn't have an operating system and didn't want to write one.

I will never forget the day they implemented the plan to get around this obstacle. The EE team read the basic interpreter off of a trs-80 bought from Radio Shack (I don't know if it was Level I or II Basic) Anyhow they then donned guilty faces and commenced hacking in the features we needed to control a medical diagnostic instrument.

I guess the company paid for this in the long run. On another series of projects a management decision decreed that a low-production line of instruments for industrial use would use the same processor board rather than outsourcing say a Digital LSI/11.

It turned out that the designers hadn't quite gotten adequate power supply to all areas of the processor board and the combination of tolerances meant that about 5% of the early production boards sometimes fell below the critical voltage at which the Z80 would stop operating.

There was a brief period when one of these faulty instruments was going to cause a nuclear power plant to be late going back online (after safety modifications dictated by NRC after the Three Mile Island incident). The fine for causing a delay in restart of this power plant was $1,000,000 / day.

If memory serves the plant engineers went with a different measurement system so we wound up off the hook. However the price in worry and wasted effort was not a small one.

I guess that's karma for you. For my own part I'm happier that that instrument didn't go into production on a nuke.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.