The ground communications network for the Air Force DSP satellite program (boost phase missile warning) was built with 80186 processors. The hub routers were multi-processor systems with six 80186's or five 80186's and a 80386.
These systems were used to provide early warning of SCUD missile attacks during the first Gulf War. They were installed in 1988 and decommissioned in 2005.
(ATMs use a complex system of pressurized tubes to extract and move notes out of the bins. I think the idea is that the extra complexity fails more easily as a kind of canary, but I'm not sure.)
Now I'm reminded of the story of the engineer who had to face a very tricky debugging scenario when dealing with the sensing/optics assembly for a missile... it didn't use heatsinks, because the production lifetime of the system was just enough seconds shorter than the overheating point that none were needed.
(Pretty sure I stumbled on that from here but I cannot possibly remember exactly where, sorry.)
But for anybody looking for a quick-n-dirty deploy to a board solution, the Zet is fantastic and solid.
Forgoing PC compatibility was not without its advantages. The Tandy 2000 could have up to 768k of RAM -- and used all of it, the 640k limit being nonexistent. This made a huge difference in applications such as Lotus 1-2-3. The Tandy 2000 also featured a 640x400 color display option -- extremely high resolution for the time -- at an affordable price, making it attractive as a graphical workstation. Tandy 2000s were used in the design of Stars and Stripes 87, an America's Cup winning yacht, and were also used to prototype color display in Windows 1.0. So it was an important machine, despite fading into obscurity due to its lack of PC compatibility.
Sorry, I just frickin' love this machine and wish it were more remembered.
I think I read about him first in Jerry Pournelle's coolumn in BYTE. So he modded my 2000 up to 896KB, and also added a disk controller and hard drive. Tandy eventually started selling cards with an 8087, which definitely helped with floating point stuff.
It was a wonderful machine. I first ran Turbo Pascal on it, did my first color Mandelbrot set. I had the color monitor and the inkjet printer. What is incredible is that for what I spent in 1984 dollars on all that stuff, adjusted for inflation, I could probably now get dual Xeons with 20 cores!
It was a very sad day when I realized that it was getting too hard to deal with the incompatibility with the IBM-PC standard. The video RAM (and 640 x 400 8-color graphics), the nonstandard floppy disks, the add-on cards (which could be installed without opening the case), ... Technical superiority isn't always conclusive.
The original BYTE review, for anyone who's interested:
PC compatibility basically steamrolled over all that. Maybe it was seeing what happened with the 2000 that convinced me from an early age that PCs were going to conquer the world, and Macintosh and Amiga fanboys were next on the chopping block. I couldn't even guess then how right I'd be; not even game consoles avoided turning into cut-down, purpose-built PCs.
At the time, I was just disappointed that the only graphical game that actually worked with the 2000 was a specially ported Flight Simulator 1.0.
Compatibility has been great in some ways. But with standards in flux back then, there was more variety (and maybe fun) than there is now. Besides experiments like the 2000, there were things like machines with 2 different CPUs (the Commodore SuperPet had a 6502 and a 6809, and I think the DEC Rainbow had a Z80 and and 8088). There were so many 5.25" floppy formats you needed utilities like Xenocopy to convert among them (I think it fiddled with the drive controller to manipulate the drive heads).
With machines being simpler, you could fiddle a lot more. Many magazines published assembly language code for little games and utilities; for that matter, the computer section of a typical bookstore carried lots of books on assembly language. There were books on microcomputer system design, stuff about how things worked at the chip level. All gone.
I remember Flight Simulator. I couldn't believe it the first time I played it. Crashed the plane over and over ... There was a graphical paint program, and other graphical stuff which worked with the very slow mouse - in fact, I have a copy of an ad featuring Bill Gates in which he describes using the 2000 in designing the early versions of Windows.
The Nimbus was an absolute horrific trainwreck of a machine - RM were only able to supplant the far superior Acorn in schools due to backdoor shenanigans. Imagine the world now if kids who had grown up on Archimedes went into companies and started using that tech there, we would be 15-20 years ahead of where we are now technologically. Instead the geniuses at the department of education collectively shot us all in the face.
With that said, beyond the odd software incompatibilities, I found it an interesting system. Its BASIC was pretty good and it had a music chip integrated at a time when almost no machines had sound cards.
Anyone else remember "TRAINS"? :-D https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvwoPUqDCa4
Very interesting BIOSes, too.
Probably the last series of 80186 PCs ever made were HP's 100LX / 200LX, a palmtop DOS based PDA that was released in the mid-'90s IIRC. It was an amazing little gadget for its time.
It had an 80186, 1MB of RAM (extreme at the time) and many other niceties that a normal IBM PC didn't have. I think it even had an external MMU, at least it could run SINIX. Though there were UNIX clones like PC/IX and early XENIX versions that ran without MMU on stock IBM XTs, without protection obviously, so I'm not certain what the story with SINIX on the PC-D was.
But without a doubt though it was an apricot, thank you for that. I did have a quick look or older models it may of been, nothing could pindown for sure. Though pre-release eval kit back then was much more fun and creative than today's verbatim to release.
There were others:
The 80186 would have been a natural successor to the 8086 in personal computers. However, because its integrated hardware was incompatible with the hardware used in the original IBM PC, the 80286 was used as the successor instead in the IBM PC/AT.
In other words, the few "PCs" which did use a 186 weren't fully PC-compatible.
In the late 1980s, the network server on my high school computer classroom’s LAN was a ’186; the actual PCs were either 8086 or 8088 machines.
It is one of the saner Intel's attempts at x86-compatible embedded CPU with integrated peripherals.
Although it seems a bit slow side at 50 MHz, I guess it's not a pipelined design?
Not that original 80186 was pipelined either. :)
50 MHz is mid to low end 486 territory clock rate, which if it handles instructions as well (a big if) puts it squarely in the area of a lot of games.
There is some complications around changing the clock. It seems to have to do with the complexity of the hdl you load into the FPGA. Many of the boards shipping with 50mhz crystal can easily do over 100mhz.
And you are essentially correct, there is a maximum clock speed for any design, and it has to do with how complex your design is. Essentially, what’s the longest path in your design? Your clock must be slow enough to allow a change to propagate through that path. Pipelining shortens this path by creating registers along it, which are clocked by your clock. When a register is clocked, it stores the value in its input side, and outputs that value on the output side.
Let's imagine you design a CPU on an FPGA. One way to measure the speed of that design is to look at the speed of the slowest operation of that CPU. The clock needs to be set at the speed at which the slowest (most complex) operation can reliably run at.
I'd love to merge some of my work in if I can find some spots. I truly believe that simply getting a new piece of compatible hardware is just as good as the option of upgrading your software and hardware. Just because we're all on 64-bit platforms doesn't mean that the shop down the street using needs to use it for their POS' either.
Also of tangential relation to this, but my old IBM PC with a 80186 a few years ago finally lost its 6V Lithium battery. I called IBM at that time, referenced 8286121 as the IBM replacement number on the front, and for a bit of money, they sent me a new-old-stock one. I was really blown away.
That's still weird to see; it's kind of like AMD Radeon was for a few years.
Boys and girls, this is how you do a resume. :)