AIM 65 Review
by Donald Clem, RR#2, Conant Rd.,
Spencerville, OH 45887
One of the latest single board computers to appear on the market is the AIM 65 from Rockwell International of Anaheim, California. The main attributes of the AIM 65 which set it apart from some earlier single board computers are its full size keyboard and on-board printer.
The most obvious elements of the AIM 65 are the keyboard, display, printer, electronics, and two dual 22 pin connectors for expansion. The keyboard has 54 keys which support 69 functions. When in the monitor command mode, approximately 1/3 of the keys are used to implement the various commands. Three of the keys may be user defined to perform functions desired by the user. At this point, the versatility of the AIM 65 becomes apparent.
The display is 20 characters wide and uses 16 segment display devices. The 16 segments allow greater readability than a 7 segment display. The display uses internal latches and decoding so no processor overhead is required to refresh the display. This approach does increase power needs.
A 5 × 7 dot matrix thermal printer is provided which uses 2¼ inch wide paper. It is 20 characters wide and prints 64 ASCII characters. It can generate program listings whenever desired. The printer can echo everything shown on the display or be disabled and print nothing. The printer can be switched on the off from the keyboard or through program control. In my opinion, the printer has made the purchase of the AIM 65 worthwhile.
The standard AIM 65 electronics are the 6502 processor, several I/O ports, ram and rom. One of the I/O ports, a 6522, is completely available for user interfaces. The remaining I/O supports the monitor. The minimum AIM configuration comes with 1K of 2114 ram. The on board ram may be expanded to 4K. 4K should be enough for most AIM dedicated applications. For general purpose use, additional ram may be required. 12K of additional rom (2332's) may be added if desired. An optional Assembler and 8K basic is available.
All LSI components are mounted in sockets except an I/O port mounted directly to the display. A completely socketed board would have been nice, but this would have increased the price.
The two edge connectors at the back of the AIM are claimed to be Kim-1 compatible. They are compatible when the 6502 bus signals are considered, but when considering the signals specific to either the AIM 65 or the Kim-1, they differ. In 99% of the cases, these differences will make little difference, but the user should be aware that they do exist.
Two cassette recorders may also be added for low-cost mass storage. The recorders may be used under remote control if desired. Some recorders require more current than the AIM 65 remote circuitry can supply and, therefore, eliminate the remote control feature. This drawback can be remedied by adding relays.
The documentation for the AIM 65 includes a 6500 Hardware Manual, 6500 Programming Manual, AIM 65's User Guide and Monitor Listing, a wall-size schematic, a Programmers Reference Card and an AIM 65 Reference Card. The initial AIM 65's User Guide contained a multitude of errors, but Rockwell has since supplied revised correction pages. The User's Guide measures 1-1/8 inches thick and provides step-by-step examples on how to use the AIM 65. The optional Basic interpreter is by Microsoft and quite powerful.
The power requirements for the minimum configuration are about 2 amps at 5 volts and 2 amps peak at 24 volts (.5 amps average) (used for the printer only).
In summation, I would consider the extensive 8K monitor system a value approaching the price for the AIM 65. On top of this, I would add that it also contains the printer, making it an excellent value at the $375 needed for minimum configuration.