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Data General NOVA (1969)

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[Data General NOVA (1969)]The Nova was one of the first 16-bit minicomputers and led the way toward word lengths that were multiples of the 8-bit byte. It was first to employ medium-scale integration (MSI) circuits from Fairchild Semiconductor, with subsequent models using large-scale integrated (LSI) circuits. Also notable was that the entire central processor was contained on one 15-inch printed circuit board.

The Nova was known for its economy and efficiency -- its designers were able to do without transformers and other costly components in the machine's memory system, and they used a wireless backplane design that allowed unprecedented flexibility in configuration.The chassis could accommodate seven printed circuit boards and be used for either memory or I/O device controllers. And upgrades to the system were easy because boards could be unplugged and replaced with newer components.

High-schooler Steve Wozniak, Apple's future co-founder, was said to be enchanted with the Nova's elegantly designed architecture, and had photos of the machine taped on his bedroom wall. Wozniak wasn't the Nova's only fan -- the machine sold very quickly and helped cast Data General as a formidable competitor to Digital in the fast-growing minicomputer and OEM markets.



Units Shipped

700 by 1970; 50,000 (all Novas)


Medium-scale integrated circuits, single-board CPU, 16-bit architecture


Edson de Castro


DOS, Algol 60 compiler, Fortran IV, Basic


Edson de Castro


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