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The future of Machdyne.

Recap

Over the past year we’ve been busy designing and building a series of timeless FPGA computer prototypes in small batches. Along the way we’ve also built over a dozen modules and tools.

When we talk about “timeless” applications we mean things that people were doing 100 years ago that they will likely still be doing in 100 years. Many of these things don’t need the latest technology to be useful, they just need stable and responsive technology, like a pen and paper.

As we outlined in a previous post our goal is to build useful computers that exist somewhere in-between a pen and paper and a state-of-the-art modern PC.

Our Computers

Riegel is a small, responsive FPGA computer. Riegel is very capable and while our Zucker SOC makes use of all of its hardware, it’s far from optimal and there is a lot left to be done. Riegel is a great platform for retro computing and bare-metal RISC-V software development.

Schoko is a slightly larger and even more capable FPGA computer designed specifically for running timeless applications on Linux. Schoko is not fast by modern standards but it is usable and capable of running thousands of existing applications.

Bonbon is a slower but more compact FPGA computer that can easily fit in your pocket.

Keks is our upcoming FPGA game console (and computer) intended for educational gaming and game development.

While all of our computers may be technically capable of running Linux we currently only officially support Linux on Schoko.

What’s next?

The great thing about FPGA computers is that they can get better and more useful over time. One of our main focuses going forward will be on improving our existing computers through our open-source gateware, firmware, software and documentation.

We will also continue improving our open-source enclosure designs and our manufacturing processes and capabilities, and when chip supplies become more available we hope to increase production and reduce the price of our computers.

We plan to design and build additional computers, including a laptop and a higher-performance computer, but instead of being driven by competition or technology, we are driven by creating computers that can withstand time, and we have no urgency to release new products.

We’d like to thank all of our customers for taking a chance on our prototypes and reiterate our commitment that you will be able to count on support and improvements over the days, months, years and decades ahead. We also welcome and encourage you to get involved, follow us on GitHub, and contribute to improving and making the computers more useful however you see fit.

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Timeless computing.

Overview

Computers are getting better but also worse. Faster, but often less responsive. More capable and complex, but less understandable and less secure. Cheaper, but more disposable.

In many cases, instead of computers being tools of humanity, we are becoming tools of the computers. We chase the latest technology in order to run the latest versions of operating systems and applications.

There are a class of timeless applications that simply don’t need the computational horsepower or complexity available in modern computers. Among these are many forms of reading, writing, storage, communication, mathematics, organization, education, automation and programming. Many people still prefer to use decades-old vintage computers for these applications. Some even use typewriters, or a pen and paper.

We are developing a series of new general-purpose computers, modules and tools designed to support timeless applications. These devices are being designed to operate and remain useful for at least decades and possibly centuries. Our computers will run software that provides a simple, secure, powerful, distraction-free environment.

Some of our prototypes are available for immediate sale on this website, and some can be reserved with no obligation to buy. We have decided to use this approach in order to give us maximum flexibility as we iteratively design and build the best timeless computers possible.

We have outlined the goals for our computers below, we may not always meet all of these goals but they will help to guide our decisions.

Goals

  • Designed to be used primarily for timeless applications
  • Designed to operate and remain useful for 100+ years (in both directions[1] where possible)
  • Unbrickable; end-user can always recover to original state
  • Durable; should be able to withstand reasonable wear and tear
  • Limited-lifespan parts should be user-replaceable (flash, moving parts, etc.)
  • Hand-assemblable and hand-repairable without unreasonably expensive equipment
  • Support for long-term data storage (ferroelectric, magnetoresistive memory, etc.)
  • Understandable; as simple as possible and extensively documented
  • Comprehensive documentation built into the devices
  • Software and documentation snapshots made public for the long-term (via torrents, IPFS, Internet Archive, etc.)
  • Modular; modules can be added to extend functionality and provide new interfaces
  • Open; open-sourced software and hardware provide confidence about security, repairability and longevity

[1] By both directions we mean that the computer would have also been useful to someone 100+ years ago; they would’ve been able to power it and find a way to interact with it. Critical for time travel and post-apocalyptic dystopias.

Who are we

Machdyneâ„¢ is the hardware division of Lone Dynamics Corporation. We are an American technology company whose mission is to improve the state of reality for humanity through technology.