The birth of the 6502 microprocessor in 1975 is, for many, a holy event. This little chip was incredibly cheap ($25 while competitors where still hundreds of dollars) and, due to that cheapness, would go on to spur some of the most iconic computing projects of this era. You may not have ever heard of the 6502, but you’ve heard of the systems that used it. Most notable were the Nintendo Entertainment System, Commodore 64, and the Apple II.
Due to its considerable role in the home computer revolution, the 6502 has become somewhat of an icon in the eyes of computing enthusiasts world wide. You’ll find shirts and posters with references to the chip, and now, you can see an incredible gargantuan reproduction as well.
The Monster 6502 was created by Eric Schlaepfer as an ode to the original. The effort that Eric put into this project is not clearly evident at first glance, especially in a time where seeing a printed circuit board covered in flashing LEDs is not unusual. However, this specific board is a feat of endurance and perseverance that is a true testament to the role the 6502 played.
The entire project took Eric about a year from start to finish. In the beginning, he wasn’t even sure if his concept, a giant “exploded” version of the 6502 for display purposes, would even work. He wanted to place each transistor, of which there are over 3,200, on a board so that you could actually see them. This would prove to be a daunting task. He pushed the limits of his circuit design software and had to manually place the items (something that is typically automated), to ensure that he got exactly what he wanted.
In the end, the Monster 6502 turned out to be fully functional and, in my opinion, glorious. You can watch as data flows from piece to piece, cascading through the process. If you want to learn more about the Monster 6502 project, check out his site where he has shared the journey down long road to completion.