Jonathan A. Titus

Microcomputer Pioneer

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Lesson 1: Introduction to X-Game Station

Our inspiration for this part of the project was one of the experiments described in the extended version of the original paper on Mark-8 by Jonathan Titus. This is Experiment No. 8: "Computer Games." The first paragraph of its description states what follows: "The Mark-8 Minicomputer may be programmed to play games since it can rapidly make decisions based upon new input data. One simple game that can be played on the Mark-8 is a variation of the old 'take-away' type of game, Nim." Then the details of the game are given followed by a discussion of its programming and eighteen lines of octal code. Thinking about making our own design for playing computer games, we interviewed Dr. Titus and he advised us in this interview to use a microcontroller, because it is easier to deal with for the beginners. We followed this advice and here is the result of our efforts.

Recently video games have become a major part of the computer based industry. From hardware engineers developing newer and better technologies to software engineers trying to develop a better game to compete with other companies. The hardware behind a system has changed drastically since the creation of the first video game in 1958, a basic Table tennis game written on an oscilloscope by Willy Higinbotham, developers have progressed greatly with the inventions of greater hardware to run better looking games. Developers have created a device known as a video game console; it runs selected media that has a video game on it. It has reached a point now that video game consoles are stronger and faster then most computers, these systems have carved their own niche into the computer industry and it is one of the fastest expanding industries. Video game consoles have transformed from a simple box that only played their cartridge to full fledged computers that have their own OS. The development is only improving and paving a way to even greater technologies.

The project we decided to take on was to find an embedded system that would resemble the Mark 8 in terms of how its inner workings. For this we found the XGameStation™ Pico. This embedded system emulates the older technologies of video game systems and is a perfect piece of hardware to use in comparison with the Mark 8. Similar to the Mark 8, this piece of hardware uses the sequential architecture, SISD (single instruction, single data), where a single processor executes a single instruction stream, to operate on data stored in the memory. In comparison to the Von Neumann which has a program stored and waits for an interrupt to continue program execution.

We will be creating a simple program for the XGameStation™ Pico and explaining how the system works starting from the basics of its architecture and moving all the way up to coding and debugging of the system. This will be done in comparison to the Mark 8 as a case study. The XGameStation™ Pico is a system that’s designed to be a game console and we are going to show it at the hardware and software level to better describe micro computing.