UK Man Builds Massive Computer Out Of Discrete Transistors To Play Tetris And Other Classic Games

Have you ever wanted to play a classic video game on a massive computer? James Newman of Cambridge, United Kingdom has you covered. He has completed his 33ft wide and 6ft high “Megaprocessor”.

Newman started building the “Megaprocessor” in 2012 and recently finished it this past June. He has spent £40,000 GBP ($53,000 USD) on the project. It includes five 8-bit ladders at roughly a foot long, 40,000 transistors, 10,000 LED lights and it weighs around half a ton (500kg).

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Why did Newman build such a massive processor? His short answer was, “Because I want to”. Newman is a digital electronics engineer who who was learning about transistors. He wanted to be able to visualize how a microprocessor worked.

Newman remarked,

Computers are quite opaque, looking at them it's impossible to see how they work. What I would like to do is get inside and see what's going on.  Trouble is we can't shrink down small enough to walk inside a silicon chip. But we can go the other way; we can build the thing big enough that we can walk inside it. Not only that we can also put LEDs on everything so we can actually SEE the data moving and the logic happening. It's going to be great.

The Megaprocessor is capable of programming and playing video games. So far Newman has experimented with Tetris and other classic games. Newman admits that playing a game on such a large computer is not easy.

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He hopes that his creation will be used as an educational tool in a museum or educational institute. He is currently planning a series of open days at his home over the summer. Newman stated, “I doubt I'll be able to sell it. My dream is that it goes to a museum or educational institute so that people can learn from it.”

Newman carefully document the process of his creation online. You can follow his blog or binge-watch his YouTube Playlist. Newman is also available for questions on Facebook.


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