Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Epson QX-10

Somewhere we had acquired an Epson QX-10. This was a Z80 powered machine running CP/M, but it wasn't originally conceived as such. Epson had written a CP/M compatible operating system called TPM, and they had some lofty ideas about how a computer should interact with people. They chose Forth as the language to deliver their ideas. So there were some applications which were seamlessly integrated together, but this didn't wind up being a successful product.

So instead we treated this machine like it was another Kaypro. Bob asked me to write a program that would optimize the use of the fiberglass panels we made our circuitboards from. The panels were 24 by 36 inches (I think). For some order we might need a panel that was 8 by 10 inches. How should we cut the panel to reduce waste?

So I wrote a program in Microsoft BASIC for the QX-10. The user would enter the desired size of the material, and it would draw a rough image of the panel as it should be cut with instructions something like:

Insert the long way and cut 10 inches for 3 panels 10 by 24 inches.
Take each of those panels and cut 8 inches for 3 panels 8 by 10 inches each.
Total yield 9 panels 8 by 10.
Waste 1 panel 6 by 24 inches.

We used the computer for this purpose for several years. Hopefully the computer paid for itself in this role. :-)

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