A system to design micros
(Computer-Asia - May 1982)

Micom Tech, an electronic engineering consultant in Hong Kong has started manufacturing a microprocessor development system for local and overseas markets.

The system, Micom 68, offers complete development features for developing M6800 microprocessors. Designed to operate like a microcomputer, the system comprises a central processing unit, D.C. power supplies, a separate video display with a keyboard of 54 keys plus 16 hexadecimal keys to facilitate program development and debugging.

According to Victor Ng, general manager, Micom 68 offers more flexibility than other development systems over a wide range of microprocessors as it can be programmed to the individual user's requirements. The system basically is a tool for designing microprocessor controlled products such as personal computers, large security sqstems in buildings, microwave ovens or electronic cash registers.

Victor Ng

A lot of development systems used to design such products usually support one particular family of chips as most semi-conductor manufacturers who make them do so only to support sales of their own chips.

But Micom 68, says Ng, can be used to evaluate several different microprocessors. It features a disk operating system that can support up to four floppy disk drives, a text editor that can edit commands and special command chaining capability, cross assemblers for other microprocessors, a monitor debugger, built-in self diagnosis program and a mother-board with 12 slots to allow for future expansion.

The total package including software and hardware costs between US$6,000 -- $10,000. Micom Tech initially invested about $100,000 and 18 months on research and development of this system which was carried out by professional computer designers and consultants from Hong Kong.

H. Chung, a hardware designer, runs a test on the Micom 68.

Although Micom 68 is still at the stage of testing the market, the company already has sold a total of 15 sets to a number of manufacturers within Southeast Asia including Hong Kong. "It is difficult to project the results of current tests, or to say when it will arrive at the break -- even point," said Ng. "We need at least three months to get some feedback." However, in the coming year, the company is aiming at a sales target of 100-200 sets.

Already a lot of consumer products now are being incorporated with microelectronic and computer controlled devices. "Because of this we anticipate a growing need for a general purpose system," Ng disclosed.

According to Ng, the company has no plans to penetrate the United States as the market there already is flooded with domestically manufactured micros. At this stage, it is concentrating not only on developing the local market but also other countries in the region, and sees China as a potential target.

The company will be appointing agents outside Hong Kong to offer hardware, repair and modification support to overseas users. Because Micom 68 is a new name in the computer market and the first such system to be developed in Hong Kong, Ng indicated that the company's initial approach will be to market the system through its designing and consultancy services. "We hope to take on more concrete and complicated development projects so that we can use our system to design the customer's target end products.

Micom Tech was set up last year as an engineering consultancy and designing company. With a staff of 15 technical engineers, the company not only provides strong hardware support but also designs a wide range of products for individual customers. Additional features under development include hardware modules and software debuggers for Z-80, TMS1000 / TMS1100, COP420 and Oki 5842 processors.