Category Archives: Vintage Technology

AYAB v0.90 is here!

AYAB (all yarns are beautiful) Logo

The All Yarns Are Beautiful project has just released a new version of the AYAB software, v0.90!

It’s a bugfix-release, that means it fixes mostly known issues and no additional features are introduced. This is necessary to get more stability in the software and to have solid foundation for future developments.

If you’re using our AYAB Interface, we’d encourage you to upgrade. If you want to contribute to this project that brings new life to old Brother knitting machines, head over to the announcement to read more.

AYAB: A new interface for vintage knitting machines

Machine knitted versions of the AYAB and the Evil Mad Scientist logos

AYAB — All Yarns Are Beautiful — is an open source hardware and software project that provides an alternative way to control the widely-loved Brother KH-9xx range of knitting machines using a computer. There are other hacks (such as Img2Track, Knitic and electro-knit) which work with certain machines in certain conditions. The AYAB interface works with all Brother KH-9xx machines except the KH-970.

AYAB control board

We’ve just launched a new interface board for the AYAB project. They’ve written about it on their site, and you can read the product details on our store page for it.

Historically, these machines were programmed with semi-transparent picture cards which were scanned by the machine line by line. For later machines, you could enter a pattern via lots of tedious button-pressing. Some models had an add-on gadget that connected to your vintage TV.

Knitted image of Live Long and Prosper hand gesture

With the AYAB interface, you can provide an image of up to a 200 pixel (or needle) size from your computer. The control is done by an Arduino-compatible microcontroller board, which replaces the vintage control board. We are excited to be helping to bring new capabilities to these beloved machines.

Vintage Computer Festival West XI


The Vintage Computer Festival is happening at the Computer History Museum in Mountain view this weekend, August 6-7.

Hands-on exhibits are presented Saturday and Sunday. You’ll find demos of 1960s minicomputers, 1970s homebrew systems, 1980s eight-bitters, and a few oddities. Some exhibits contain pristine original machines, while others focus on unique modern hacks, and everything in between.

The MOnSter 6502 will be there, too!

Nixin: a font inspired by Nixie Tubes

Nixin is a font being kickstarted by Nelio Barros inspired by our Nixie tube take-apart post.

Simply put, the original nixie tubes are beautiful and retro. They bring us the spirit of an era where technology often looked like magic.

Nixin is based on the original 9 numbers that are exactly the same as can be found inside the nixie tubes, and all the other characters are my interpretation to what they would look like, if they existed inside a tube.

Here’s one of our photos he used in the video to talk about the inspiration behind the font:

Just numbers

The campaign ends in a few days, so act quickly to support the project!

Introducing the MOnSter 6502

MOnSter 6502 PCB

Our collaborator Eric Schlaepfer has been extremely hard at work this year, designing a truly monstrous follow up to our giant-scale dis-integrated 555 and 741 circuits. This is the MOnSter 6502: a transistor-scale replica of the famous MOS 6502 microprocessor, the processor found at the heart of influential early computer systems such as the Apple ][ and the Commodore PET.

It is huge, at 12 × 15 inches, with over 4000 surface mount components, and 167 indicator LEDs added throughout so that you can see the flow of data.

MOnSter 6502

This is a new project, still underway. We will be showing off the first prototype of the MOnSter 6502 at the Bay Area Maker Faire this coming weekend. We don’t promise that it will be completely working by then — this is a first stab at an extremely ambitious project — but we’re genuinely excited to show it off in this early stage.

Decode ROM

You can read more about the MOnSter 6502 on its main project page, monster6502.com, and at Eric’s blog, tubetime.us.

(Before you ask, the MOnSter 6502 is not yet a kit or product that we’re selling. Right now, it’s an amazing thing that we’re trying to build. If you would like to stay in the loop as this project evolves, we’ve set up a special mailing list for updates.)

Dr. Nim Prototypes

Dr. Nim was made by John Godfrey, the same person who designed the original Digi-Comp II. His grandson, Andrew Beck, has the Dr. Nim prototypes and recently shared pictures and video of them via twitter.

Andrew says,

Here’s a video showing the first two Dr. Nim prototypes, made by hand in the 1960s

The second prototype still works, and he shows off how the mechanism works in the video, along with pointing out some of the differences between the two prototypes.

The earlier prototype has switches that look very similar to the ones in the Digi-Comp II.

The second prototype is very close to the production version, which we blogged about some time ago, and can be seen below.

Thank you, Andrew, for sharing this bit of history!