Perhaps one of the most ubiquitous inventions in history, and yet probably the most poorly understood. The computer is a blackbox. A magical device that recognises its peripherals, accepts input from them and outputs the desired information - often in the form of pretty pictures for user convenience.
I can't speak for the others on the team, but for myself, demystifying this most important of tools is my reason for this project to build a computer. After all, one could argue the best way to understand something is to make it yourself.
That is the goal of this project. To build a computer from the low-level Instruction Set Architecture, through to its Printed Circuit Boards all the way up to a custom Operating System.
This is no easy goal. Anything resembling a modern computer is immensely complicated, especially with the demand for smaller form factors, faster computation, more memory and greater elegance. Vacuum tubes and punch cards are no longer considered the state of the art, instead nano-metre precision (and higher!) solid-state chips that can fit in the palm of your hand and require specialised devices to interact with are considered 'simple'.
Yet, is this not the information age? And is not the computer abundant and free to access for university students and staff? This task is possible; at our fingertips is a world of resources on computers, covering every aspect of their design and manufacture that hasn't been censored by involved corporations; at our fingertips lay countless tools with which we can take these ideas and manifest them rapidly for testing via simulation and automated proofs; at our fingertips (if we achieved shackcess) is a room full of physical tools to wield in the materialisation of our designs. This task is possible because it has been done before with far less than what we have available to us.
So this is our project, to do the seemingly impossible in the scarce periods of time where our lives do not inundate us with work. Maybe you're interested in joining because you too would like to know how a computer functions from bottom to top, maybe it's the knowledge and techniques you gain at different levels of the stack that interest you. Whatever it is, you are welcome to join this project, so long as you put care and love into whatever work you do on it.
The following posts will contain useful information instead of silly-old speeches.