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Vintage Computers Any vintage computer systems, calculators, video games etc., but with an emphasis on 1980s and earlier equipment.

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Old 27th May 2024, 8:01 pm   #1
ortek_service
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Default Zilog to end production of the Z80 after 48yrs

I've only just found-out about this, via a thread about Counterfeit Z80's (Many old NMOS etc slower ones getting re-marked as fastest CMOS ones, which will no-doubt become more prevalent with no new-ones anymore): https://groups.google.com/g/rc2014-z...m/qhyKCXDdBgAJ

It seems was announced last-month, and many well-known websites like theregister, hackaday and vcfed had featured this e.g.

https://www.allaboutcircuits.com/new...icroprocessor/
https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2024...rocessor-chip/
https://www.reddit.com/r/beneater/co...notifications/


Zilog are maybe surprisingly still-going under that name, despite being owned by other companies for most of their life - with Littelfuse now owning them after acquiring previous IXYS owner in 2017: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zilog
- Where there is a list of the products they had developed (Although most are rather much-less known than the original Z80, so wonder if they will be enough to keep Zilog going. And I never knew they produced ARM-9's at one point, until that got sold-off to Maxim a while ago).


Zilog have announced last-orders will be accepted until 14th June 2024 for all NMOS & CMOS standalone Z80's. e.g.: https://www.mouser.com/PCN/Littelfuse_PCN_Z84C00.pdf


Although it seems use of the Z80 core in other IC's will carry-on with the eZ80 microcontroller etc still being made for now.

And the Z80 is one of many Soft-Cores (although not sure about IP copyright on these) available for FPGA's.
But future-availability of Z80 Peripheral IC's like the Z80 PIO / CTC / SIO / DMA may also be affected, as I think these are also now discontinued by Zilog.

There was at one time many (Japanese etc - Now mostly merged into Renesas) companies who second-sourced the Z80 like the NEC (uP)D780, much-used by Sinclair etc. as well as Sharp?

With the 65(C)02 still seemingly being made by one company at least, maybe that has eventually won the 'Z80 vs 6502 war'!

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Old 27th May 2024, 9:14 pm   #2
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Default Re: Zilog to end production of the Z80 after 48yrs

The Z80 - my introduction to writing software. Good fun, leading to gainful later work...
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Old 27th May 2024, 11:50 pm   #3
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Default Re: Zilog to end production of the Z80 after 48yrs

Yes, The Z80 (in the Spectrum) was also the first processor I used / tried machine-code programming on after a friend had written a game in Z80 m/c on the ZX81 after teaching himself from the classic Rodnay Zaks Programming the Z80 Book.

But I never got on too-well with the Spectrum's Sinclair Z80 Assembler, and having to reload everytime you had a crash. So I later swapped to having a Beeb with its in-line 6502 assembler built-into BASIC / ease of reset and recovery with its DRAM refreshed by the CRTC, and ended-up doing far more assembler on the 6502 (which came in handy much later on with similar 680x / 68HC11 assembler on microcontrollers)

Although whilst at College, they did later teach-us some Z80 m/c on the Microprofessor, where you had to enter hex-code from hand-assembling the Z80 code (A bit of a backwards-step, when there was quite a few Beebs / Masters in the Computers-Classroom nextdoor, and IIRC Flight Electronics even did Cross-assembler ROM's for that - but would then probably need the have some actual Z80 H/W to run things on, if wanting to control some physical H/W with a non 6502 CPU).
And I had intended on using a Z80 in my EPROM-Programmer project design, to make it Stand-alone - But only had time to make a Beeb-Interface & do software on that in the end, as getting a full Z80 embedded system PCB made back then wasn't too easy / cheap.


When the Z80 first came-out, their main competition was the 8080 that some of the designers had originally worked-on at Intel, and it seems Zilog struck the first blow against that from this Zilog advert, titled "The Battle of the 80's" (From 1976, so referred to the IC numbers rather than the 80's decade where it mainly battled the 6502) I found on the Zilog Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Z...d_May_1976.jpg
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Old 28th May 2024, 9:39 am   #4
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Default Re: Zilog to end production of the Z80 after 48yrs

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Originally Posted by lesmw0sec View Post
The Z80 - my introduction to writing software. Good fun, leading to gainful later work...
Me too. I first encountered a Z80 in my secondary school's Research Machines 380Z in 1979. I learned Z80 assembler from Lance A. Leventhal's book. I can still remember the hexadecimal values of some of the Z80 opcodes.

I didn't work all that much with Z80 processors in professional life, mostly working with 6809, 68k series, x86 and ARM. I last worked on a Z80 related project in 1990 that used the Hitachi HD64180 that integrated timers, UARTs and a DMA controller.

John
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Old 28th May 2024, 9:59 am   #5
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Default Re: Zilog to end production of the Z80 after 48yrs

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Quote:
Originally Posted by lesmw0sec View Post
The Z80 - my introduction to writing software. Good fun, leading to gainful later work...
Me too. I first encountered a Z80 in my secondary school's Research Machines 380Z in 1979. I learned Z80 assembler from Lance A. Leventhal's book. I can still remember the hexadecimal values of some of the Z80 opcodes.

I didn't work all that much with Z80 processors in professional life, mostly working with 6809, 68k series, x86 and ARM. I last worked on a Z80 related project in 1990 that used the Hitachi HD64180 that integrated timers, UARTs and a DMA controller.

John
Same here C3 for a jump, 21, load HL etc! I went on to use stacks of Z80's in bits of process control - the sort of thing you would use a PIC for today. I do recall though, that after getting an interference pulse, the Z80 could get itself into a locked state where even a hard reset would not be recognised. I rolled my own 'watchdog' timer, which would completely re-power the device if that happened.
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Old 28th May 2024, 10:02 am   #6
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Default Re: Zilog to end production of the Z80 after 48yrs

Here is a Z80 based device I produced for ML Aviation - the logger for airport runway friction checks.
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Old 28th May 2024, 4:53 pm   #7
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Default Re: Zilog to end production of the Z80 after 48yrs

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>>

Same here C3 for a jump, 21, load HL etc! I went on to use stacks of Z80's in bits of process control - the sort of thing you would use a PIC for today. I do recall though, that after getting an interference pulse, the Z80 could get itself into a locked state where even a hard reset would not be recognised. I rolled my own 'watchdog' timer, which would completely re-power the device if that happened.
I always remember C9 (201) for RET, from my days of (mainly disassembling Z80 code to hack Spectrum-games to change number of lives etc). With a complete list on a (web)page of ther full instruction set, here: https://spectrumforeveryone.com/tech...-instructions/


I wouldn't normally use a PIC these days - particularly in assembly, as that has the oddest mnemonics for its relatively-few instructions, as well as very little in the way of a stack on original ones plus having to keep swapping register banks. Maybe down to its 1970's General Instruments origins (where it got its Peripheral Interface Controller name) and was only available Mask-programmed for use in Washing Machines etc.

If using an 8bit uC, I'd normally use an ATMega AVR as used on Arduino's
- Although I've only programmed those via a C-Compiler so far, so not lookerd at its (also RISC) instruction set yet. But these compilers seemed to work quite-well with it, whereas C Compilers for early PIC's could be troublesome as it wasn't really designed to support these efficiently.

Or a SiLabs substantially-enhanced (to make it essentially RISC-like) 8051, which caused a resurgence in using the 8051 that (like the Z80) has its origins in the 8080. I recall the original 8051 took an incredible 12 clock cycles to execute a NOP, with even later Philips 'Enhanced' ones still taking 6.
Atmel had also started-off producing their AT89xx 8051-like uC's, but then came-up with their own AVR RISC ATMega architecture.
Although SiLabs are more into their 'Gecko' 32bit ARM uC's, since acquiring Energy Micro's version - basically abandoning their own early ARM's.
With Atmel also having their own 32bit 'SAM' ARM uC's, that Microchip will now have acquired, but had seemed to still carry-on with developing their 8bit uC's.
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Old 28th May 2024, 5:12 pm   #8
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Default Re: Zilog to end production of the Z80 after 48yrs

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Originally Posted by jjl View Post

>>
I didn't work all that much with Z80 processors in professional life, mostly working with 6809, 68k series, x86 and ARM. I last worked on a Z80 related project in 1990 that used the Hitachi HD64180 that integrated timers, UARTs and a DMA controller.

John
Yes, I recall the Hitachi HD64180. Not sure if this is still being made by them (Now-Renesas), but it seem Zilog icenced it back and made a pin-compatible Z80180 enhanced version that start-up as a HD64180: http://www.zilog.com/docs/z180/appno...-migration.pdf
And was also what led to the Z180 - Which may well still be being made.
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Old 28th May 2024, 7:17 pm   #9
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Default Re: Zilog to end production of the Z80 after 48yrs

I have Z80s 'inside' several different items including 2 x ZX81 and 2 x Spectrums but the most hardcore Z80 item I have is my Maplin Z80 CPU + Keypad and display dating from the 1990s.

Apart from the keypad and display it has nothing in the way of I/O so I grafted a Microprofessor I/O PCB (originally meant to go into the left hand side of the Microprofessor 'book cover' enclosure) onto it - the I/O board has quite a lot on it including a Z80-PIO, Z80-CTC, (but strangely not a Z80-SIO or Z80-DART - serial communication comes and goes via a humble 8251) ... plus more RAM and ROM sockets. Amazingly none of the hardware addresses on the I/O PCB clash with already used ones on the Maplin PCB, so it was just a case of wire the buses together and go.

When I bought the Maplin Kit, what I really wanted was the much more expensive Microprofessor which I couldn't justify the cost of at the time, especially with the Z80 already being rather 'retro' by that time - so it's ironic that I ended up buying a Microprofessor I/O board for it when they were being sold off some years later by Greenweld. Sad to say, Greenweld never had stocks of the Microprofessor Z80 CPU PCB, or at least not to my knowledge.

From a programming point of view the Z80 remains my firm favourite, perhaps because I never had the pleasure of programming the 6809 which several people here have named as their absolute favourite 8-bit processor.

The more recent compact Z80 PCBs which communicate via a serial connection seem to have been very popular - I don't have one myself, I just don't think I would be able to give it the time it deserved at the moment.

Forgot to mention, when I was mucking around with the Z80 PCB back when it was new, the machine I was writing the code for it on was... The Atari ST. Someone wrote a nice Z80 cross assembler for the ST, which I bought.

Nowadays I guess we'd all use SBASM3.

Last edited by SiriusHardware; 28th May 2024 at 7:22 pm.
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Old 29th May 2024, 12:12 am   #10
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Default Re: Zilog to end production of the Z80 after 48yrs

The most surprising thing to me about the subject line is that the Z80 was still in production. I thought it would have been discontinued years ago.

My second computer was a TRS-80 Model 1 (my first was an MK14) which I still have (now with a Model 3 and Model 4), so I learnt Z80 machine code many years ago. I've now got many Z80 machines, and even an in-circuit emulator (which is very useful for sorting out such machines with major faults).

But.... somebody told me about the 6809. Didn't think too much about it until the TRS-80 Color Computer was being sold off. I bought one and quickly realised it is a MUCH more elegant processor. Very orthogonal, just about every addressing mode is available to every instruction. Program counter relative data addressing, long relative branches and relative-addressed subrouting calls, 2 stacks and so on. If you've not used one, you've missed out!
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Old 29th May 2024, 12:16 am   #11
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Default Re: Zilog to end production of the Z80 after 48yrs

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The more recent compact Z80 PCBs which communicate via a serial connection seem to have been very popular - I don't have one myself, I just don't think I would be able to give it the time it deserved at the moment.
I can post a PCB tomorrow G
I've ported the Zen assembler to it, it has Nascom BASIC and a small monitor... very Nascommy
Do you have a motorola 6850 acia and a 7.372 crystal in your stash?
Go on, you know you wanna, its a fun board
Here
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Old 29th May 2024, 1:03 am   #12
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Default Re: Zilog to end production of the Z80 after 48yrs

You've graciously offered before, Phil, and I had to decline because I knew that with the best of intentions I would not get around to using it. I think we've both recently seen what can happen when material is generously donated but the recipient, for whatever reason, is not able to bring the project to completion. I wouldn't want that to happen.

Thanks again, though - but as said, I do have at least 5 working Z80 computers to choose from already.
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Old 29th May 2024, 1:18 am   #13
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Default Re: Zilog to end production of the Z80 after 48yrs

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If you've not used (the 6809), you've missed out!
Undoubtedly so - I guess the simplest way to experience one in the UK would be to pick up an old Dragon 32, but if I did it would just join the many machines which I keep in perfect working order but rarely use.

I suppose there must be hundreds of thousands of Z80 based industrial process controllers or highly specialised instruments (like Les's) which cost a fortune originally and are still keeping £100,000 an hour production lines or other essential facilities (like airports) going. For about 4-5 years I worked for a repairs company which targeted this niche type of customer, promising to repair primarily industrial circuit boards without the equipment they went into to hand, so they couldn't be tested operationally by us - what we did was to replace every component that could be replaced and test everything which couldn't - you can imagine that at that time we needed a good supply of common 8-bit micros and their typical support ICs... so until quite recently it must have been worthwhile keeping Z80 production going.
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Old 29th May 2024, 1:54 am   #14
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Default Re: Zilog to end production of the Z80 after 48yrs

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The most surprising thing to me about the subject line is that the Z80 was still in production. I thought it would have been discontinued years ago.

My second computer was a TRS-80 Model 1 (my first was an MK14) which I still have (now with a Model 3 and Model 4), so I learnt Z80 machine code many years ago. I've now got many Z80 machines, and even an in-circuit emulator (which is very useful for sorting out such machines with major faults).

But.... somebody told me about the 6809. Didn't think too much about it until the TRS-80 Color Computer was being sold off. I bought one and quickly realised it is a MUCH more elegant processor. Very orthogonal, just about every addressing mode is available to every instruction. Program counter relative data addressing, long relative branches and relative-addressed subrouting calls, 2 stacks and so on. If you've not used one, you've missed out!

Well I suppose there was so much out there with legacy Z80 code, that there was still quite a bit of demand for these and system-manufacturers were still making products using them rather than these just being bought by retro computer building enthusiasts and repairers.
Maybe even more surprising is that the 6502 is apparently still being produced, in an updated faster-speed form.
Most of the classic 80's Peripheral IC's are probably also now discontinued, but maybe UMC etc carried-on second sourcing some of these.

If you thought the 6809 was good, then it seems Hitachi went one better with their 6309 that not only had a 6809 emulation mode but also added many extra instructions / often took 1 cycle less to execute these. See: https://colorcomputerarchive.com/rep...0Atkinson).pdf

However, the 6309 was used even-less (Not sure of anything well-known that used it) than the 6809 - Which only really got used in the TRS80 Colour Computer / Dragon plus a few lesser-known ones: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catego...home_computers
https://retrocomputing.stackexchange...onal-computers
As well as a few Arcade machines (Often just looking-after one part like video / sound, with 6502 / Z80 still being used elsewhere,


The 6809 did have extra registers and 16bit pairs & instructions, so a bit more Z80-like, compared to 6502 / other 680x (although these did at least have the A & B pair of 8bit accumulators) processors . Plus the 6809 also added a Multiply instruction. And although the instruction set was much-more orthogonal than the original 6800 etc. it still needed separate LD / ST / TFR instructions (Maybe to keep compatibility with older 680x uP's)
When the 16/32bit 68000 (developed around the same time) took instruction-set orthogonality much-further with just a single MOV mnemonic that could do any move operation between its R0 to R7 registers / memory. (It's just a shame it took so many cycles to execute its instructions, which the ARM managed to do similar operation in a more 6502-like 'RISC' minimal cycles).
It is surprising the 6809 core never appeared in a microcontroller form, with the later popular 68HC11 still being basically 6800 based with some added instructions that often required a second opcode, slowing these down. Whereas only a few of the 6809's instructions needed an extra 'page 2' OpCode.

Although the original Z80, like many 808x CPU's, also often needed quite a few clock cycles being a micro-coded 'CISC' processor, compared to the 6502. However, the Z80 may have been more-efficient on program storage space, with many more registers / instructions, so didn't have to use so many instructions to shuffle things around between registers / the stack etc to free up the one 8bit Accumulator.

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Old 29th May 2024, 2:15 am   #15
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Default Re: Zilog to end production of the Z80 after 48yrs

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I have Z80s 'inside' several different items including 2 x ZX81 and 2 x Spectrums but the most hardcore Z80 item I have is my Maplin Z80 CPU + Keypad and display dating from the 1990s.

Apart from the keypad and display it has nothing in the way of I/O so I grafted a Microprofessor I/O PCB (originally meant to go into the left hand side of the Microprofessor 'book cover' enclosure) onto it - the I/O board has quite a lot on it including a Z80-PIO, Z80-CTC, (but strangely not a Z80-SIO or Z80-DART - serial communication comes and goes via a humble 8251) ... plus more RAM and ROM sockets. Amazingly none of the hardware addresses on the I/O PCB clash with already used ones on the Maplin PCB, so it was just a case of wire the buses together and go.

When I bought the Maplin Kit, what I really wanted was the much more expensive Microprofessor which I couldn't justify the cost of at the time, especially with the Z80 already being rather 'retro' by that time - so it's ironic that I ended up buying a Microprofessor I/O board for it when they were being sold off some years later by Greenweld. Sad to say, Greenweld never had stocks of the Microprofessor Z80 CPU PCB, or at least not to my knowledge.
>>
I recall the Maplin Z80 board - IIRC, they first did this in the late 80's, and picked up some of these from a rally very-cheap a few years ago.
Maplin later-on used a Z80(B?) card, with a couple of other cards on a small backplane, to from a framestore for their Weather Satellite decoder system to make it stand-alone and not require a Beeb Computer to do this.

The Microprofessor has recently got recreated in an updated form using the eZ80? etc for educational etc use. And I saw it at a previous RCF, although it is fairly-expensive compared to the Z80 MBC / RC2014 etc that you could use a serial-link to a PC / add a display adaptor.
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Old 29th May 2024, 8:11 am   #16
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Default Re: Zilog to end production of the Z80 after 48yrs

I think you are right, the Maplin Z80 CPU and companion keypad and display card had been around for several years before I bought mine. When I did buy it the keypad / display PCB was still using 'proper' keypad switches... not long afterwards that was discontinued and a version with a membrane keypad was introduced, so that provides a cutoff date for mine.

Interestingly about 90 percent of the layout of the bus connections on the Maplin CPU card edge connector is the same as that on a Sinclair Spectrum, the obvious intention had been that the Maplin CPU would be able to utilise hardware expansions and interfaces which had been designed for the Spectrum, possibly including a few earlier Maplin Magazine projects which had targeted the Spectrum originally.
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Old 29th May 2024, 8:18 am   #17
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Default Re: Zilog to end production of the Z80 after 48yrs

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I recall the Maplin Z80 board - IIRC, they first did this in the late 80's, and picked up some of these from a rally very-cheap a few years ago.
Are you saying that you have some of the bare / unpopulated CPU PCBs, Owen? If so I'd be interested in buying one of those off you - mine was perfect up until a few years ago when I discovered that the onboard battery had rotted and given off a nasty vapour which dissolved some of the screen printing on the top side of the PCB. I evicted the battery, but the damage was already done. If I could rebuild it on a pristine new PCB, that would be awesome.
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Old 29th May 2024, 8:47 am   #18
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Default Re: Zilog to end production of the Z80 after 48yrs

There are a couple of old threads concerning the Maplin Z80 CPU system - they include both versions of the EPROM which could be fitted in the CPU PCB - the original one which supports the keypad and display (M12) and the later one to support the later development-over-serial card (MS12).

https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/...ad.php?t=73302

https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/...d.php?t=152367

These may inspire you to get one of your boards up and running...?
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Old 31st May 2024, 10:38 am   #19
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Default Re: Zilog to end production of the Z80 after 48yrs

If production of the Z80 is coming to an end, where will this leave contemporary projects like the Spectrum Next - does that use a real Z80, or a more modern microcontroller incarnation of the Z80, or perhaps even an FPGA clone of the Z80?

(I've never seen a 'Next').
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Old 31st May 2024, 3:19 pm   #20
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Default Re: Zilog to end production of the Z80 after 48yrs

The spectrum next uses an fpga.
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