The Z80 8-bit microprocessor was released in 1976, and was Zilog’s first ever product. Over the following several years, the Z80 and it’s derivatives were used in huge variety of home computers, including the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Radio Shack TRS-80, and the ColecoVision. It was an incredibly popular processor, and a lot of software was subsequently developed for it. Now, you can put that computing history in your wallet with the credit card-size MakerLisp Machine.
The MakerLisp Machine is a portable, modular computer system in a 2" x 3.5" package. It has a Zilog eZ80 processor, which is basically just a faster version of the original Z80. Don’t worry, it’s still compatible with Z80 software! A micro SD card is used for storage, and the board has a built-in USB/UART bridge for connecting to your computer as a terminal. In that mode, you can run whatever Z80 software you like through your computer’s terminal.
But wait, there’s more! The MakerLisp Machine is expandable with an additional 2" x 8" board that provides traditional connections. With that expansion board you’ve got a fully-fleshed out computer system, with ports for a keyboard and monitor. It’ll come in either a 3D-printed or laser-cut enclosure. As you may have guessed from the name, the MakerLisp Machine is also designed to run bare-metal Lisp. Using the special development environment, you can program in Lisp and control the board’s GPIO pins. It’s a great way to learn Lisp and experience retrocomputing at the same time.
MakerLisp Machine will be launching on Crowd Supply soon, so be sure to sign for updates so you get notified when it’s available!