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Nd812

The meaning of «nd812»

The 12-bit ND812, produced by Nuclear Data, Inc., was a commercial minicomputer developed for the scientific computing market. Nuclear Data introduced it in 1970 at a price under $10,000[1] (equivalent to about $70,000 in 2019[2]).

The architecture has a simple programmed I/O bus, plus a DMA channel. The programmed I/O bus typically runs low to medium-speed peripherals, such as printers, teletypes, paper tape punches and readers, while DMA is used for cathode ray tube screens with a light pen, analog-to-digital converters, digital-to-analog converters, tape drives, disk drives.

The word size, 12 bits, is large enough to handle unsigned integers from 0 to 4095 – wide enough for controlling simple machinery. This is also enough to handle signed numbers from -2048 to +2047. This is higher precision than a slide rule or most analog computers. Twelve bits could also store two six-bit characters (note, six-bit isn't enough for two cases, unlike "fuller" ASCII character set). "ND Code" was one such 6-bit character encoding that included upper-case alphabetic, digit, a subset of punctuation and a few control characters.[3] The ND812's basic configuration has a main memory of 4,096 twelve-bit words with a 2 microsecond cycle time. Memory is expandable to 16K words in 4K word increments. Bits within the word are numbered from most significant bit (bit 11) to least significant bit (bit 0).

The programming model consists of four accumulator registers: two main accumulators, J and K, and two sub accumulators, R and S. A rich set of arithmetic and logical operations are provided for the main accumulators and instructions are provided to exchange data between the main and sub accumulators. Conditional execution is provided through "skip" instructions. A condition is tested and the subsequent instruction is either executed or skipped depending on the result of the test. The subsequent instruction is usually a jump instruction when more than one instruction is needed for the case where the test fails.

The I/O facilities include programmable interrupts with 4-levels of priority that can trap to any location in the first 4K words of memory. I/O can transmit 12 or 24 bits, receive 12 or 24 bits, or transmit and receive 12 bits in a cycle. I/O instructions include 4 bits for creating pulses for peripheral control. I/O peripherals can be attached via 76 signal connector that allows for direct memory access by peripherals. DMA is accomplished by "cycle stealing" from the CPU to store words directly into the core memory system.

Nuclear Data provided interfaces to the following peripherals:

The ND812 did not have an operating system, just a front panel and run and halt switches. The I/O facility allowed for peripherals to directly load programs into memory while the computer was halted and not executing instructions. Another option was to enter a short loader program that would be used to bootstrap the desired program from a peripheral such as a teletype or paper tape reader. Since core memory is non-volatile, shutting off the computer did not result in data or program loss.

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