Yesterday, a customer came to us with some questions, and brought a development board with him, that is a part of mikroElektronika history.
A middle-aged hobbyist came to our offices yesterday bringing with him a PIC board he was working with in the past 10 years, and asked if we had something with a bit bigger and faster microcontroller. On our surprise, the board he revealed from his bag was no other than EPIC, one of the earliest PIC boards ever designed in mikroElektronika, dating back to December 2000. You won't believe this, but this board existed even before we were registered as company. Back then our CEO Nebojsa Matic, with a small group of people ran a magazine called mikroElektronika. Later on, they started making development boards, and the magazine was shut down. That was the moment when mikroElektronika as you now know it emerged.
EPIC board was really epic! It had two RS-232 connectors, power regulator, piezo buzzer, two 7-seg display, LCD and GLCD connectors, eight LEDs and 5 push buttons, optocoupler inputs with screw terminals, one relay, 74HC595 and 74HC597 shift registers, LTS1286 AD converter, two IDC10 PORT headers, a prototyping area, all running with then popular PIC16F84 microcontroller.
Maybe the most amazing thing was the way it was supposed to be programmed. Back in late 1990's, microcontrollers were taken out of their boards and programmed separately, and then plugged back into the socket. But this board had a different - more thoughtful and practical design. There was a switch located between the RS-232 connectors, so user could cut off the programming lines from the rest of the board, and connect them to RS-232. There was a software which programmed the PIC over UART. When the programming was complete, user had to turn the switch in the original position, and re-connect the lines back to the board. This idea is actually implemented in mikroProg today, but only it is done by a multiplexer circuit.
In the board photo you see here, the user soldered different kind of switch than the one originally sold with the board, but you get the idea. Anyway, when we saw the board, people who are part of our team for no more than a year or two rushed to see it and get the know our early design. Info desk was suddenly crowded, and we asked the customer to take the photos of the board and share them with the community.
We hope you like it :)
[click on the image to enlarge]