Cyclops restoration.

CROMEMCO Cyclops restoration project.



gsmcten's picture


You will have to excuse my ignoramusness, but what is the Cyclops?

I have seen a lot of older computers, but this is a new one on me.

That's all I could find. It seems so simple a machine that that'd be the only thing that makes sense.


I'm afraid it's not even a computer, it's just a lowly peripheral. Two Berkeley hackers got together and turned a perfectly good memory chip into camera. When I heard about it I just had to build one. I suppose you could say its an artifact from a misspent youth!

Best Regards


Cyclops appeared in the Feb 1975 issue of Popular Electronics as a construction article. It's primary claim to fame is that it was the first Solid state imaging device ever offered to the general public before that time imaging devices were vacuum tubes such as the vidcon tube, they were big, required high voltages , generated lots of heat and couldn't be economically miniaturized. Harry Garland and Roger Melen were early members of the Home brew computer club, they also started CROMEMCO computers. They specially designed it as a peripheral device for the Altair 8800. Some say it was the first purpose built peripheral device for a general use microcomputer system. Garland and Melen were also about twenty five years ahead of their time, Cyclops was the first Charged Coupled imaging Device (CCD)to hit the market place. Without it we wouldn't now have all of those cell phone cameras or for that matter those small surveillance cameras.

Now the real interesting part is that the imaging device was nothing more than an Intel 1101 RAM chip. It seems that a semiconductor chip will respond to light when exposed to it.

I've been trying for years to make contact with anybody who has another Cyclops camera but have been unsuccessful. Mine may be the last existing original example left.

Best Regards


I don't have a camera, but I have the Cromemco controller board set for the S-100 Altair , the Cromemco 88-CCC. (I have an Altair too.)

There are several pictures you will find if you google harry garland cyclops, one in a Stanford museum and one on the Spanish wikipedia (go figure). The camera body is blue. An acquaintance told me that Terry Walker (another early Cromemco guy) has one of the the blue Altair cameras.

We should coordinate trying to get in touch with these guys. I have a phone number for Harry Garland, but haven't called him yet.

I am going to build a camera. I have been stumped over the MOS chip I have to find the 1101!

You can reach me offline at john at johnparsons dot net.


eeun's picture

Here's a link to the 1975 Popular Electronics article:

Mike, that's a truly gorgeous specimen you've got there.


Thanks for your comment. At the time, I was going to school and working on early cruse missile guidance systems on swing shift. The workload was spoty and some evenings we wouldn't have much to do so I bought it as a slack time project.

I've been trying for the past couple of years to contact Melen or Garland to find out what color the "cyclops" name tag was. But so far I've had no luck.

Best Regards

catmistake's picture

Computer science is ugly, but only ever since computers. If I could do it over again...
EE all the fn way.
just... wow

gsmcten's picture

That is just outstandingly outrageous!

Just Plain Cool. Smile

I built the very first one of these! Your restoration is beautifully done.

Dear Mike,

Are you interested in selling this camera? 

let me know please