I still ♥ Zilog!

I mention other vintage chips here.

Buttons celebrating the Zilog System 8000 and z8000 CPU.
Zilog’s PL/Z language for RIO (their own z80 OS).
And Z-Net: Zilog’s own network.


The Z8000 family of chips!



Captain Zilog!

Here's Captain Zilog issue #1 (thanks to Bill Degnan!)
Oh noes! I never got the poster or patch!
Captain Zilog returns in a new online comic
We needed the Captain to come back out of his long sleep due to the energy crisis and by using Zilog solutions he is now back battling these energy hungry creatures menacing the world.
Timex/Sinclair 1000
I neatly labelled the chips inside the Timex/Sinclair 1000 for the my "Z80 Ain't Dead Yet" 2008 Vintage Computer East display.
This is the only PC with a heated keyboard! Yes, the power regulator's heat sink was under the keyboard.
Still, it's quite a marvel that it's a complete computer with keyboard and TV video output using only 4 chips in 1981.
Sadly, many stopped working for a simple problem: the keyboard ribbon cable gets brittle and cracks.

The Sinclair ZX80 was the first model using discrete logic, then the ZX81. They broke the $100 price barrier as kits (back in the days when Heathkit was the prime competitor). It was historical but it was never all that great to use

Zilog’s last gasp: the embedded eZ80


The full Zilog eZ80 evaluation board with debug/upload pod.
It’s a really nice upgrade from the Z80/Z800 with lotsa RAM, flash and built in ethernet. It was intended to put embedded systems on the Internet for remote monitoring vending machines, etc. by running a tiny web server.
eZ80F91 MCU specs: 50 MHz CPU, on chip: 8K SRAM, 256k flash, 10/100 base T ethernet, UARTS, JTAG, I2C, SPI, ZDI (Zilog Debug Interface) and other peripherals.
The minimal kit
So many accessories!
It came many power cubes and a 5 port 10/100 ethernet switch (in case you were low on ports since one’s required for the target system, one for the debug pod).
Too many plugs!
The power supply "wall worts" were a bewildering assortment of plugs-of-all-nations.
The top one used a shaver-style connector so the 3 adapters to the right simply plugged into the top.
The bottom one required the hook-tool for removing the specific adapter.
Most auto-adjust to any voltage 100-240 V, 50-60 Hz.


Zilog’s Z86L9900100ZCO (Z86L99) Infra Red developer’s kit

A joystick (with pushbutton), 132 pushbuttons (11 x 12 array) and breadboarding area.
ZiLOG Z86L99 evaluation platform
Giant "Z" on the bottom
The rubber feet are 2 high for enough clearance for the batteries and toggle switches.
batteries INCLUDED!
EVERYTHING was included: manual, batteries, cable, kybd adapter


Zilog downsizes, again

It’s hard being a Zilog advocate then they keep shooting themselves in the foot.

In 1976, Zilog’s Z80 CPU was a major advance for ease of integration (single voltage source, single phase clock, non-mux bus, integrated DRAM refresh) with a family of support chips (dual serial, dual parallel, quad counter/timer, DMA) that interfaced directly with few external components (a far cry from Intel’s external interrupt controller, dual phase clock, external bus controller, etc.). Countless Z80 based systems were produced internationally (most notably The Tandy Radio Shack TRS80 and the Sinclair ZX80). As other CPUs overtook the Z80 for speed and capacity, the Z80 series migrated from the desktop to embedded application: inside smart-modems, SCSI disk controllers (host adapters), terminal controllers and protocol converters.

Around 1982, Zilog became an Exxon Corporation affiliate, expanding from just components to making entire computer systems for office automation computer as Exxon Office Systems (I remember their fancy NYC Rockefeller Center office). I used these Zilog systems: Other references: In 1989, employees bought back the company but it never seemed to find a niche or focus once their CPU (z80, z8000) were no longer in vogue and the z80,000 never happened.

Key Dates According to this
1974: Ralph Ungermann establishes ZiLOG.
1985: E.A. Sack launches a restructuring effort in order to bolster company sales and profits.
1991: ZiLOG goes public.
1998: Texas Pacific Group buys the company.
2001: ZiLOG files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
2002: The company emerges from bankruptcy protection.
By 2003, Zilog seemed to be on the rebound by focusing on embedded products, capitalizing on those of us familiar with the Z80 by offering the new faster, highly integrated embedded eZ80 (and z8 encore). But did they really deliver?

Feb 2008: more bad news

Zilog is not dead yet bit it was coughing up blood last night (Monty Python references).

Despite the initial excitement of the eZ80 Acclaim! development kits from Mouser
and promoted by contests and articles in Circuit Cellar Ink, people report receiving no replies from Zilog, and all the eZ80 forums have idled out.

Well, Zilog finally admits that it’s spinning off more of itself:
Maxim and Universal Electronics purchase Zilog universal remote control and secure transaction businesses
Transactions Enhance Zilog’s Liquidity and Allow It to Focus on Innovating in Core Microcontroller Business.
But according to this trade journal, no engineers remain even for their remaining "core business".
Zilog Sells Off Two Product Lines

Feb 19, 2009 - Zilog today announced the sale for cash of two of their product lines to two buyers.
The product lines sold off were their Crimzon Universal Remote Control product line (including the remote control database) and their Zatara ARM9-based Point-of-Sale (POS) microcontroller product line.
Semiconductor company Maxim Integrated Products has purchased Zilog’s Crimzon Universal Remote Control microcontroller product line …
Maxim also purchased Zilog’s "Zatara" ARM9-based secure transaction Point-of-Sale (POS) product line …
Remote control manufacturer Universal Electronics Inc. (UEI) today purchased software assets related to Zilog’s Crimzon universal remote control business …

Zilog’s Future

Last month, Zilog cut 35% of it’s workforce worldwide. Billerbeck stated today that Zilog intends to grow their remaining flash microcontroller business. However, with the exit of Dr. Norm Sheridan as head of Engineering, as well as the departure of almost all of Zilog’s experienced design engineers, Zilog’s present management does not intend to develop any new silicon because they no longer have a design engineering team. Only two or three semiconductor design engineers remain with the company.

2011: the Phoenix rises from the ashes!

2011: Ixys systems acquired Zilog