Jupiter Ace Forth Programming
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Introduction to the Jupiter Ace FORTH Programming book by Steven Vickers
In 1950 the National Physical Laboratory made the Pilot ACE (Automatic Computing Engine), one of the earliest British computers. Internally it could store an amount of information measured as H Kilobytes, it took 32 microseconds to perform its simplest operation and, with its large number of wires, valves and tubes filled with mercury, occupied a space the size of a small kitchen. Most of its remains can now be seen in the Science Museum at South Kensington.
Based on the Pilot ACE, English Electric developed their DEUCE (Digital Electronic Universal Computing Engine). Over six years they sold about forty of these, costing between £30,000 and £40,000 each.
Now, in 1982, Jupiter Cantab Ltd have produced their own Ace. It can store 3 Kilobytes of information (which can easily be extended) and has an extra 8 Kilobytes of program built into it permanently; the Z80A microprocessor at its heart executes its simplest instruction in just over 1 microsecond, and it is small enough to rest in your lap. Thousands of them will be made, costing less than £100 each.
How do we at Jupiter Cantab manage it? Not by being extraordinarily clever (although, of course, we are). We are simply the beneficiaries of thirty-two years of development that invented the printed circuit board, the transistor, and then methods of packing thousands of transistors onto one small silicon chip; and in the process transformed computers into machines for everyone.
This exhibit has a reference ID of CH1427. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.