System-4 Bus

The system bus card is built from VERO board and uses SIP style sockets and Radio Shack card supports. Each system card connects to the bus with a right angle single row header at the bottom of the card. At the back of the picture is the original power supply everything, is mounted on a piece of plywood. The AC power connector with a built-in switch was added last year.

System-4 6845 Alpha Numeric Card

The video card is based on a 6845 circuit from the May 1979 issue of Byte magazine. The circuit uses a 6116 2Kx8 Ram and provides dual port access to the RAM for both the system bus (circuit on the right) and video generation (circuit on the left). The circuit does not wait for horizontal or vertical blanking to access the RAM so the picture has a fair amount of “snow” while the video RAM is being updated. The monitor connects via a DB-9 hanging off the side of the card.

System-4 CPU Card

The system card is a fairly standard 1802 setup. A circuit remaps the 4K EPROM from the bottom of the address space (0x0000) to the top (0xF000) after the first access to an address in the upper block following a system reset. The circuit on the lower left side of the card replaces the original interface to an Apple parallel keyboard. A preprogrammed PIC PS2 keyboard decoder (PAK-VI) connected to a PIC 16F84 which acts as a serial to parallel converter connect to the original 1852 parallel IO port.

System-4 Memory Card

This is the top view of the 24K memory card, only 16K is populated. The jumpers on the card are for setting card location within the address space, the need for more memory never materialized.

The Bottom of the memory card. Back then building a computer was a little like knitting a sweater, the hours of handy work far out numbered the hours doing real engineering work.


This is the last of several 1802 based systems I built between 1978 and 1983. This system like all “real” computers has a system bus and separate Front Panel,CPU, Memory, and Video cards. The original system used an Apple parallel keyboard that was damaged many house moves ago. Last year the system was modified to use a PS2 keyboard everything else is original and seems to work :-). The system uses Tiny Basic or a modified version of the original Popular Electronics monitor program.