Does Anyone Else Remember Their First Parallax Encounter? When Was It?

4th grade, 9 yrs old, 2013;
I remember very clearly, at the end of my first reading breakout class, seeing a couple of robots on top of my teacher’s shelf. I asked her what it was, and she told me about how she used to teach a robotics class.
At the end of the school year, she let me borrow one BOE Bot kit for the summer. I was mesmerized, because I could look at the pcb while I put it together! It was not until two years later of borrowing that thing over the summer breaks, that Mrs Golden moved schools. She messaged my mom on Facebook, and told me to keep the ‘Bot! 5 years later, I still have everything but the BOE itself, which burned out and quit after serving a classroom for several years. I have since then used Parallax robotics with much joy!
Returning to Spin after two months of not coding micros at all, forgetting to use :=

Comments

  • Well in my case it was about the time Parallax was still using the DOS tools for the BS1 which makes it about the beginning of the century.

  • Mine was seeing the technical description of the Propeller 1.

    A 32 bit multi-processor, each processor having it's own, private memory, etc...

    ?!?

    Are you kidding? Yeah, I ordered a board right away and jumped in.

    Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball! @opengeekorg ---> Be Excellent To One Another SKYPE = acuity_doug
  • 1992 - BS1
    Then a few years later we purchased $2k worth of BS2's sight unseen based on the BS1 track record we experienced


    Beau Schwabe --- Robotics applications- PCB design, embedded software, and mechanical
    Oklahoma Robotics -

    www.Kit-Start.com - bschwabe@Kit-Start.com ෴෴ www.BScircuitDesigns.com - icbeau@bscircuitdesigns.com ෴෴

  • ercoerco Posts: 19,560
    edited 2018-12-29 - 06:31:39
    I received my BS-1 in the US mail on April 1, 1994 (hard to forget that date). I had never used a micro before, but I saw an ad for the then-new BASIC Stamp in Nuts & Volts. I was determined to compete in the very first Trinity College Fire Fighting Home Robot Contest on April 17. The first year it was actually at the Hall high school gym, sponsored by the Science Center of Connecticut. Full report at https://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-xpm-1994-04-18-9404180144-story.html
    "When you make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when others make it after you."

    - Pablo Picasso
  • It had to have been 2005, I was managing a Radio Shack store and I kept seeing this product “What is a Microcontroller”. Back I the early 80’s, I had worked extensively with the Z80 including writing a task rotator that allowed me to control multiple devices at the same time. I finally bought one and was hooked. I moved on to the SX and eventually the Propeller.
    Jim
  • BOE Bot in 2007 from Radio Shack followed shortly after by the Prop Ed Kit from Fry's Electronics. Two of the coolest retail purchases I've ever made.
  • I don't know for sure but I think it was What's a Microcontroller in Radio Shack. I became a Parallax fanboy very quickly after that.
    Founder of Kinvert
    https://www.kinvert.com/
  • I became a Parallax fanboy very quickly after that.

    Who wouldn’t!
    Returning to Spin after two months of not coding micros at all, forgetting to use :=
  • Shortly before July 2008 (when I joined the forums), when I heard about (then promptly purchased) a Propeller.

    I had heard of the Basic Stamp, but knew nothing about it or who made it. Coming from a mostly software background (hardware coding had been mostly limited to writing device drivers), and having worked with PICs for the couple years prior, the Propeller was a breath of fresh air. I've been hooked on Parallax ever since.

    Over the past several years, I've tried to bring more Propeller (and therefore Parallax) fans into the fold, but wasn't very successful. My coworkers either already had a favorite microcontroller, or balked at the unorthodox design of the Propeller. It didn't help that the chip lacked analog features and interrupts, that there wasn't enough they could recognize to feel comfortable dipping their toes into those waters. Maybe I was lucky, in that my software background meant that I wasn't as opinionated when it came to hardware, allowing me to learn the Propeller without having to fight many biases (though, having just worked on PICs might have been a bias in my favor).

    And now there's the P2. Despite having taken a decade to come to fruition, the result has been worth the wait and is something truly remarkable to behold. It'll definitely keep me a Parallax fan for years to come. And with its host of new capabilities (and hopefully a great software development ecosystem to go with it), I think this will be the chip that finally convinces my coworkers why they should be Parallax fans as well.
  • Eric, you have to tell us more about the bot! Great story.
    San Mateo, CA
  • In 1992 I was writing software for cash registers and was building a cash register out of a PC, at that time cash registers where not PC based and quite expensive. A OMRON cash register was around $25.000++. So I developed my own one based on a PC.

    And I had a scale I needed to connect to the PC but the scale had no serial. I was in Germany and found a company in Bonn, selling a product called basic stamp. My first experience with Micro Controllers.

    So I drove to Bonn, and talked to some guy who looked like a younger version of @pullmoll, but maybe it wasn't him, I never asked him, later.

    I was able to read the data send to the display of the scale and replicate it as a serial output. Sadly I was not able to get it certified by the 'Bundestechnische Pruefanstalt' because of the ability to manipulate the data of a weighted, certified and sealed scale by software.
    Something I could have done on the PC side also, but a Cash register did not get certified so they did not care, but a scale has to, at least in Germany.

    Some decade++ later (I was already in the US) I had a project in need and googled for Basic Stamp. What a major mistake. There I found Parallax and stumbled over the Propeller. I read the Datasheet. I ordered a What's a Microcontroller together with a PE-Kit.

    What a blast. Over the next couple of weeks I almost lost my daytime job, I was glued to the Breadboard.

    A 32-bit multi-core processor and I can put it together on a Breadboard. Just fascinating.

    Since then I am hooked to the Propeller and this forum. It is some sort of addiction.

    Mike
    I am just another Code Monkey.
    A determined coder can write COBOL programs in any language. -- Author unknown.
    Press any key to continue, any other key to quit

    The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this post are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119.
  • ...2008 for me.

    I needed a means of controlling a 144 relay cross-point matrix. A coworker suggested that I look into a company called Parallax and the BS2 product. Been hanging with it ever since.
    Well-written documentation requires no explanation.
  • I joined the forum in 2006, but I thought that I was present for the forum migration which was in 2004. Maybe I was just a lurker then...

    The first exposure to Parallax that comes to mind was when Parallax had a booth at Robothon in Seattle. Not sure what year that was.
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 22,474
    edited 2019-01-05 - 23:02:08
    Pre-1992, using their PIC UVEPROM programmer. My current company, Bueno Systems, was formed in 1993 to compete with this product. My business partner at the time and I had the idea of including a UV EPROM eraser in our programmer to eliminate the erase/program two-step between different devices.

    We never built the programmer, choosing instead to develop industrial linescan cameras. That led us to Jack Berlien at TI's optoelectronics division, with whom we consulted frequently regarding their TSL1401 imager.

    Jack later hooked me up with Ken Gracey at Parallax to design a color sensor using their TCS320 chip that would work with the BASIC Stamp. It turned out to be a very synergistic relationship (although Ken once described it as an "unhealthy codependence." :) )

    In the meantime, TI sold their opto division to a group of employees who formed TAOS (Texas Advanced Optoelectronic Solutions), which was later sold to AMS (Austria Micro Systems). AMS chips are still used in Parallax's TSL1401-DB and TCS3200-DB products.

    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • DavidZemonDavidZemon Posts: 2,818
    edited 2019-01-05 - 22:17:36
    Do I remember? Not only am I young enough to remember, I'm young enough to have it documented on the Internet... for better or worse I'm not sure.

    I wanted to build a digital tachometer in my car over winter break and was using the PIC16 that I learned about in the previous semester of college. I found out that, to do what I really wanted (with my limited programming knowledge), I thought I would need two microcontrollers. Someone mentioned this crazy thing called the "Propeller":
    Personally if I was going to employ a multicore controller I would go with propeller (http://www.parallax.com/propeller/) only cause its going into a Saab.

    For those unaware, Saab started as an airplane manufacturer (long before the jet engine), so the name "Propeller" was a great choice for anything going into a Saab.

    https://www.saabcentral.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-200582.html
    David
    PropWare: C++ HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) for PropGCC; Robust build system using CMake; Integrated Simple Library, libpropeller, and libPropelleruino (Arduino port); Instructions for Eclipse and JetBrain's CLion; Example projects; Doxygen documentation
    CI Server: https://ci.zemon.name?guest=1
  • I was looking over the forum for a few weeks to see if the Propeller was suitable for a project I wanted to start. Joined the forum in September of 2008, purchased a Protoboard and the necessary accessories to get started. One of the best decisions I ever made.
    In science there is no authority. There is only experiment.
    Life is unpredictable. Eat dessert first.
  • Cluso99Cluso99 Posts: 15,542
    edited 2019-01-06 - 03:02:01
    I took a break from >30 years designing and programming to build a catamaran and go cruising up the Aussie NE Coast

    Then I decided I needed to interface my computer to the boat electronics so I ordered a PIC Kit to start - I had chucked most of my electronics and computers (6 tons I sold as scrap which would be shipped to China for gold recovery).

    While waiting for my PIC Kit I accidentally discovered the Propeller Chip (2008). Ordered immediately by Fedex and started programming and then designing P1 boards. Never unpacked the PIC Kit and never looked back :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:
    My Prop boards: P8XBlade2 , RamBlade , CpuBlade , TriBlade
    P1 Prop OS (also see Sphinx, PropDos, PropCmd, Spinix)
    Website: www.clusos.com
    P1: Tools (Index) , Emulators (Index) , ZiCog (Z80)
    P2: Tools & Code , Tricks & Traps
  • My first Parallax encounter was in 1989. Chip and Lance (partner at the time) needed somebody to work in the office. My job was to look at the faxes, lay out the parts in a box, and answer phone calls. In between these activities, I'd make cables for the ROM emulator. Chip and Lance lived together and would usually sleep in so I may not even see them at the office.

    Then I went away, finished university and returned in 1997 after working with environmental analysis and development in California. Specifically air quality, noise, and permit processing of all types.

    I've been taking care of Chip ever since. Ahem, I guess we sorta take care of one another.

    Many of the experiences described above I'm quite familiar with, too. The RadioShack era was a tremendous boost to Parallax. RadioShack's purchase of Boe-Bots fueled the production run of the Propeller 1 and associated FIB/e-beam prober equipment. RadioShack also brought a huge number of customers to Parallax with the "What's a Microcontroller?" Kit from Andy Lindsay.

    Ken Gracey
  • Ken Gracey wrote: »
    My first Parallax encounter was in 1989. Chip and Lance (partner at the time) needed somebody to work in the office. My job was to look at the faxes, lay out the parts in a box, and answer phone calls. In between these activities, I'd make cables for the ROM emulator. Chip and Lance lived together and would usually sleep in so I may not even see them at the office.

    Then I went away, finished university and returned in 1997 after working with environmental analysis and development in California. Specifically air quality, noise, and permit processing of all types.

    I've been taking care of Chip ever since. Ahem, I guess we sorta take care of one another.

    Many of the experiences described above I'm quite familiar with, too. The RadioShack era was a tremendous boost to Parallax. RadioShack's purchase of Boe-Bots fueled the production run of the Propeller 1 and associated FIB/e-beam prober equipment. RadioShack also brought a huge number of customers to Parallax with the "What's a Microcontroller?" Kit from Andy Lindsay.

    Ken Gracey

    Egad!
    After a brief foray away from Parallax, my return was fueled by one of your kits that Andy Lindsay designed. You know the one, "What's a Microcontroller?" Kit . And I still rely on the Stamp for simple controlling of stuff.

    And was one of the firm's staunchest defenders when the subject came up on Hack A Day not too long ago.

    ----
    And this message is being sponsored by the Wookiees for a bigger forest committee. Head rubs our specialty.
  • Cluso99Cluso99 Posts: 15,542
    edited 2019-01-06 - 08:57:39
    Ken Gracey wrote: »
    My first Parallax encounter was in 1989. Chip and Lance (partner at the time) needed somebody to work in the office. My job was to look at the faxes, lay out the parts in a box, and answer phone calls. In between these activities, I'd make cables for the ROM emulator. Chip and Lance lived together and would usually sleep in so I may not even see them at the office.

    Then I went away, finished university and returned in 1997 after working with environmental analysis and development in California. Specifically air quality, noise, and permit processing of all types.

    I've been taking care of Chip ever since. Ahem, I guess we sorta take care of one another.

    Many of the experiences described above I'm quite familiar with, too. The RadioShack era was a tremendous boost to Parallax. RadioShack's purchase of Boe-Bots fueled the production run of the Propeller 1 and associated FIB/e-beam prober equipment. RadioShack also brought a huge number of customers to Parallax with the "What's a Microcontroller?" Kit from Andy Lindsay.

    Ken Gracey
    Oh Ken!
    Shame you didn't do an Electronics, Computing or Accounting Degree. Obviously the crystal ball was not working at the time :(

    BTW we really appreciate you taking care of Chip :wink:
    My Prop boards: P8XBlade2 , RamBlade , CpuBlade , TriBlade
    P1 Prop OS (also see Sphinx, PropDos, PropCmd, Spinix)
    Website: www.clusos.com
    P1: Tools (Index) , Emulators (Index) , ZiCog (Z80)
    P2: Tools & Code , Tricks & Traps
  • Dave HeinDave Hein Posts: 5,962
    edited 2019-01-06 - 12:53:52
    I got started with Parallax when I bought a "What's a Microcontroller" kit from Radio Shack. After working with the kit for a while I decided to order a couple of Stamps. A day later I discovered the SX, and I realized that it could do everything I needed and at a lower cost. So I quickly cancelled my Stamp order, and then order the SX demo board plus several SX chips. The SX was a great chip. I built an actively stabilized rocket using the SX and a 2D gyro chip.

    I didn't start using the Propeller until it had been out for 2 or 3 years. I was very busy at work at the time, and I was concerned that the propeller would take too much time away from work. I finally bought the Propeller Education Chip, and I was surprised how easy it was to use the propeller. I eventually used the Propeller to build some test equipment that I used at work.

    I was a little turned off by the Spin language when I first started using the propeller. However, I was able to master Spin in about 2 months. Then I spent a lot of time tinkering with the Spin interpreter, and learning how it work. I was amazed that Chip could develop the Spin language from scratch, and cram the whole interpreter into the cog memory. Since then I have developed an appreciation for Spin. I now see it as a great language for beginners.
  • Having spent decades programming in various assembler languages, I found the Propeller the easiest except the mini I worked on - very similar to the Propeller but originally only 16 instructions. No micro came close to the simplicity of the Prop.
    I learnt spin at the same time. Again, I found it pleasingly simple and I loved the indentation regime.
    What rounded out the Prop was the use of cogs(cores) for both soft peripherals and to avoid Interrupts. I had previously designed lots of hardware using multiple micros to simplify software. The Prop fell into place so nicely here. Only wish I had it 25 years earlier :smiley:
    My Prop boards: P8XBlade2 , RamBlade , CpuBlade , TriBlade
    P1 Prop OS (also see Sphinx, PropDos, PropCmd, Spinix)
    Website: www.clusos.com
    P1: Tools (Index) , Emulators (Index) , ZiCog (Z80)
    P2: Tools & Code , Tricks & Traps
  • My first encounter with Parallax was in 2000 when I acquired the BS2 manual after reading about the chip in Gordon McComb's Robot Builder's Bonanza IIRC. I'd had some experience with BASIC thanks to the C64 and others and experience with dos but the BS2 would be my first exposure to actually working with a microcontroller. I read the manual cover to cover and became desperate to get my hands on one. When selecting courses for my freshman year of college in 2002, there was no way I could pass up "Applications in microcontrollers" knowing I'd get my first BS2. The what's a "microcontroller series" was such an amazing first experience to computer programming and I still have my original Boe-Bot today.


    I picked up my first Propeller chip in early 2009 and was hooked. Spin was such a beautiful language and I could really see the potential of the Propeller's unique approach. PASM was also fairly easy to learn. I'm very excited to see where the P2 takes us over the next decade!


  • In addition, I got my start in programming in BASIC, and what the Apple spoke underneath. But the dialect used by the Stamps is easier to learn then what the Apple used up above, and certainly better then the one that ran on the odd IBM desktop....


    So everything I've written here is supported in doubles.
  • I don't remember when, but I started with the TAB Sumo Bot which had a BS2 on it. I then bought different flavors of the BS2, moved to AVR, and happily came back to Parallax with the Propeller.

    John Abshier
  • I like how you describe “different flavors” of Stamps. :smile:
    Returning to Spin after two months of not coding micros at all, forgetting to use :=
  • I don't remember when, but I started with the TAB Sumo Bot which had a BS2 on it. I then bought different flavors of the BS2, moved to AVR, and happily came back to Parallax with the Propeller.

    John Abshier

    That would've been about 1998/1999. You've been patiently working with us ever since, even trekking to California for a Propeller Expo.

    Ken Gracey
  • zappman wrote: »

    Whoa, we have a record holder here. It doesn't get much earlier than this, unless you count Chip's Apple II Choplifter "hacks" that were traded around on BBSs in the Sacramento area.

    I'd say zappman's ISEPIC claim is probably the earliest recorded record of Parallax fandom ever established.

    The stories I could tell about those times are worthy of a book. Chip and I had our own room, above the garage, far away from our parents. People would come and go, sometimes staying for many days at a time and only making minimal contact with our folks. We'd get guests from different states or countries, and they'd just hang around. I was always afraid to fall asleep in the same room as Chip, possibly being the subject of various experiments related to temperature, water or heat.

    Chip would miss days of school because he could hardly get out of bed. Our bedroom was really a shop - loaded with tools of all kinds from soldering irons to Dremels and balsa wood to acrylic. One wall was used as a Crossman pump gun ballistics test area for shooting BBs.

    Prior to this, Chip talked a bunch about jet packs - how they worked, whether one could be made at home, and so on. Even earlier, he had this little blue pocket book with physics problems. He'd bring it on long driving trips to the area where he currently lives, asking my dad questions along the way. Last time I asked Chip about that little book he didn't remember it, almost as if it were a figment of my imagination.

    There's much more, and most of it is in our parent's attic. I'll have to save it for a $9.95 paperback to fund the next P2 revision.

    Ken Gracey
  • Ken Gracey wrote: »
    zappman wrote: »

    Whoa, we have a record holder here. It doesn't get much earlier than this, unless you count Chip's Apple II Choplifter "hacks" that were traded around on BBSs in the Sacramento area.

    I'd say zappman's ISEPIC claim is probably the earliest recorded record of Parallax fandom ever established.

    The stories I could tell about those times are worthy of a book. Chip and I had our own room, above the garage, far away from our parents. People would come and go, sometimes staying for many days at a time and only making minimal contact with our folks. We'd get guests from different states or countries, and they'd just hang around. I was always afraid to fall asleep in the same room as Chip, possibly being the subject of various experiments related to temperature, water or heat.

    Chip would miss days of school because he could hardly get out of bed. Our bedroom was really a shop - loaded with tools of all kinds from soldering irons to Dremels and balsa wood to acrylic. One wall was used as a Crossman pump gun ballistics test area for shooting BBs.

    Prior to this, Chip talked a bunch about jet packs - how they worked, whether one could be made at home, and so on. Even earlier, he had this little blue pocket book with physics problems. He'd bring it on long driving trips to the area where he currently lives, asking my dad questions along the way. Last time I asked Chip about that little book he didn't remember it, almost as if it were a figment of my imagination.

    There's much more, and most of it is in our parent's attic. I'll have to save it for a $9.95 paperback to fund the next P2 revision.

    Ken Gracey

    Wow!
    My kid brother played a heck of a lot of Choplifter. As I recall it got spawned by the insanity regarding a country better known for rugs and cats. But that's besides the point.

    For my part he's someone I do want to meet, one day. Ken I'd swear on a stack of data books that I might have met yourself, and perhaps Chip back when Parallax was at Maker Faire.
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