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This mini forum is intended to provide a simple means of discussion about the South West Technical Products Corporation 6800 computer. If you want to share your own experience or memories, or add relevant information about this system: post a message!

  Click Here to add a message in the forum


Monday 15th June 2020
Joe Mc (UK)

I first came across a SWTP 6800 when my Uncle (who ran a building firm) decided to buy one to "to the accounting and payroll". They quickly figured out they needed someone who could "drive" a computer. As they knew I had a Sinclair ZX81, at 17 I was introduced to this SWTP - the heart of a specifically written (in Basic) builders payroll and accounting system - named "FBS" (Franklin Builders System). The main system unit had an external disk enclosure (2 x 8" floppy disks), a Terminal with keyboard and finally an Epson MX80 dot matrix tractor printer. I was quickly able to use this SWTP for the payroll (70+ employees) and as a result, two part time clerks were let go, as their roles were consumed by the SWTP! (A harbinger of things to come?). I was running most office functions on this PC, payroll, job costing, orders, accounts payable, balance sheet, other ledgers. All on a single 8" floppy disk! I started writing programs (in BASIC) of my own, one was to automatically "pay" invoices when a cheque was entered. The original program laboriously presented you with one invoice after another and asked "would you like to pay this"? I even managed to used Basic commands to invent a new "graphical" character set to make the menus bigger and more interesting. You could see each character being quickly drawn! Ah, Happy days.

Friday 13rd July 2018
Geoff Rutledge (California)

While in medical school in 1978, I bought and built a SWTPC 6800, with CPU, SS-50 bus, and 4k static ram card. Couldn''t afford an ASCII kbd ($$300!) and had no display - so a friend retrieved a Burroughs 32 character Plasma display (Ascii parallel interface) and a kbd removed from a pulp and paper mill - but it had 5-bit Hollerith-encoded outputs. Rewrote the monitor in EPROM to do the kbd code translation to ascii, and to make display on the 32 character display work. Later added a custom board to do file read/write to tape, based on software that directly drove an op amp connected to the audio-in of a stereo cassette deck. Had to add a 1 MHz crystal to the board (replaced the RC circuit) - Then added a board that mapped memory to an 80 x 24 character monochrome video display, and a massive 16kb dynamic memory board. Then with tiny basic (3.95kb), was able to program to heart''s content. It played star trek too.

Wednesday 15th November 2017
David Monnier (Indianapolis, In)

I worked with a brilliant engineer named Charlie Moore at a GM plant doing manufacturing R$D. When micros came out we wanted to experiment with one to see how it worked. Our IT people had to approved any computer purchase. They refused, claiming any micro was a toy and unusable in business. We called SWTP and told them our purchasing dept was sending them a RFQ for a "machine controller". They were to quote $395 and when a purchase order came in, ship the 6800 Kit always calling it a "machine controller" in all correspondence. We hooked it to an old ASR-33 teletype machine and later a tape recorder (Kansas City Std) By the time IT found out we had it, we were building a 16 channel high speed data acquisition system for our Detroit Diesel Test Dept for $71K that DEC could not touch for under $500K. Charlie wrote software and I designed hardware. Charlie was using an assembler he bought from a tiny startup named "Microsoft". Several times I answered the phone and the voice at the end asked, " Is Charlie Moore there? This is Bill Gates."

Tuesday 25th October 2011
Dave Kolstedt (USA)

I was 16 back in 1976 and had fallen in love with computers after using teletype programs in Basic attached to modems with acoustic couplers to mainframes. Our high school had an Altair but I decided to buy the SWTPC6800. I was working as a dishwasher for $1.40 an hour and it took about five months to save for the kit and then it was another couple of months to solder everything together to get it to work. I did get it to work and still have my old system although I haven''t started it in years. I ended up working in IT for most of my career and it all started with this system.

Monday 31st October 2005
Bruce W. Roeser (Deland, Florida)

The SWTPC 6800 was the first "real" microcomputer I ever saw. A friend had one at his apartment in Tampa back in 1978. I went over to his place to see it - and after playing with it for awhile I knew what I was going to do for a living from then on!

Here it is, 27 years later and I'm still writing code as a Senior Software Engineer. I still enjoy doing this however the "romance" that was present in those days is not quite the same. Writing BASIC on that SWTPC was about as absorbing a pastime as I've ever experienced - what a memory!


Sunday 2nd January 2005
Leo Hermacinski (Boston USA)

Nice to see this machine again after 25+ years. I was an avid reader of Byte in the mid-late 70's and got my grandfather to donate an SWTPC 6800 to my highschool just so I could build it and play with it.

Taught myself assembler from the Motorola documnentation and learned the basics of operating systems by studying the Mikbug code. Those were the days!

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