Jonathan A. Titus

Microcomputer Pioneer

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Jonathan A. Titus has had many accomplishments throughout his life time. He created the first published kit microcomputer and has been author and co-author of many different books.

1. Biography
Jonathan A. Titus Hobbyists have been an integral part of the electronics world, and every so often one hobbyist develops an invention that makes an impact within industry. In Jonathan A. Titus' case, he was a computing hobbyist who had the desire to build his own computer. At the time Titus decided to design this computer, the smallest computers were Digital Equipment Corporation's (DEC) PDP-8 series of machines, which took up the space of about two microwave ovens. Titus successfully built his own computer, the Mark-8, in 1973, based on an Intel 8008 microprocessor. The Mark-8 may not have been the first home-built computer that worked, but it was the first to offer a kit design explained in detail in a national magazine. The Mark-8 kit let other hobbyists follow in Titus's footsteps.
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2. Jon Titus Answers 10 Questions on Mark-8
We were lucky enough to have a chance to interview Jonathan A. Titus. He was very helpful and was able to teach us a lot. Click the questions below to see his responses or click "Entire Interview" to see them all.

  1. What was your inspiration to make the Mark 8?
  2. Did you ever think about expanding on the Mark 8?
  3. Have you ever thought about designing a successor to the Mark 8?
  4. How does it feel knowing that one of your creations is on display in the Smithsonian?
  5. Was it difficult for you to design the working on the design of the Mark 8 and its circuitry?
  6. It took you x time to develop the Mark 8, how long do you think it would take you to develop a similar system using today’s technology?
  7. You work with embedded systems currently, correct? So do you find it more difficult to develop an embedded system today then when you made the Mark 8?
  8. When you set off to make the Mark 8, did you intend to sell it to the public or was it just a personal project turned global?
  9. Do you have any advice for people interested in continuing education in computers?
  10. Any final words on the Mark-8 and its design?

Entire Interview

1999 Interview
An earlier 1999 interview has been copied and preserved from the now defunct website on Mark-8 maintained by John Lewczyk.
Read More: Adobe Acrobat PDF File1999Interview.pdf [30.8KB]

3. Titus on IBM PC History
"In the mid '70s, relatively inexpensive memory and microprocessor ICs made it possible for knowledgeable electronic experimenters to build their own computers. Prior to that, the smallest computers-minicomputers-took the space of a large microwave oven, cost thousands of dollars, and found use only in special applications. But by 1975, commercial "hobby computer" kits such as the MITS Altair 8800 and the IMSAI 8080, provided a basic front panel of lights and switches, a power supply, and a motherboard. The kit suppliers also offered a range of CPU, memory, and I/O boards. The resulting "systems" looked much like minicomputers. Hardy souls programmed these hobby computers-no one then called them personal computers-in assembly language. Some hobbyists, and a few people who saw business uses for small computers, wrote programs using a BASIC interpreter developed by a small software company called Microsoft, then based in Albuquerque, NM, the home of MITS. In the late '70s, hobby computers evolved from boxes with lights and switches to sleek packages that came with a keyboard and built-in software. Apple Computer offered its first commercial computer-the Apple II-in 1976, which Radio Shack answered the next year with its TRS-80." (Source: Test & Measurement World, 9/15/2001)
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4. Articles on Jon Titus
Below are some selected articles that refer to Jon Titus and the significance of Mark-8.

Click Preview/Details next to each link to view a small preview of the site and read a little clip before viewing the site.

Preview/Details An Early Machine Brought Computing to the Masses
Preview/Details Titus Receives Stibitz Computer Pioneer Award
Preview/Details John Titus on Vintage Computer site
Preview/Details The First Do-It-Yourself Personal Computer by Larry Steckler
(in "Solomon’s Memory" by Les Solomon)
Preview/Details "Mark-8 computers
Preview/Details The History of the Computer
(See Section 16.5 The Golden Era-the 8-bit Microprocessor)

5. Books by Jon Titus
Cover: THE DIGITAL I/O HANDBOOK Jonathan A. Titus has been a prolific writer on various subjects related to computing. He authored and co-authored over a dozen books, which are listed here. Most of them cover various aspects of designs using Intel 8080 microprocessor. Others are related to microcomputer interfacing and programming. With his co-authors, David Larsen, Peter Rony, and Christopher Titus, he created a serious of “bugbooks” published by Howard W. Sams in the Blacksburg Continuing Education Series. They were translated into Chinese, Japanese, German and Italian.
View Book List

6. Jon Titus on the Future of Computing Video
Interview Part 1 - New Technologies
Jonathan Titus answers questions about important trends in computing, his view on biocomputing and neurocomputing from an engineering standpoint, and hands on expericence with new technologies.
Interview Part 2 - Professional Writing
Interview Part 3 - Education
MMD 1 Mini Computer