About MCS Electronics

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About the Founder

 

Since I was young, I was intrigued by remote control, robots, transmitters, in short, all kinds of electronics. I created countless electronic devices. I designed a lot of PCB's by hand using ink.

At the ETS(electronic technical school) we had a Philips main frame with terminals which could be programmed in a form of BASIC.

When working at Philips i worked with an industrial computer which also could be programmed in BASIC.

The Apple II we got later on the ETS could also be programmed in a kind of BASIC.

 

When the ATARI came along, with the ST1040 and an affordable PCB design tool, I bought my first real computer.

 

Dot matrix printers, at that time, did not produce prints that good. Design of a PCB was still time consuming. I found out that a nice BASIC interpreter, which was similar to GW-BASIC, was included in the OS(TOS). For some reason, I liked this language. It was easy to master and very intuitive.

 

I found out, that Atmel made the 89C2051, which was a 20 pin chip with flash memory. I was excited to find out that there was a small micro processor that could be erased/reprogrammed without the need to UV erase the EPROM. Before the Atmel chip, I used the 8052AH, with a BASIC interpreter. It worked nice, but code ran too slow. The EPROM's had to be erased by UV light which took a long time. And all the time the EPROMS needed to be swapped. One can not imagine that today.

 

Those days, electronic circuits consisted of numerous CMOS and TTL chips. I saw the 89C2051 as an ideal replacement for a lot of CMOS/TTL chips. It would make PCB design much simpler. So the 2051 became a replacement chip. Now one was able to design his own chips!

 

The idea to be able to change the behaviour of an electronic circuit, just by reprogramming it without using a solder iron, intrigued me. Today, it is a common practice, to update firmware, to fix bugs or add features. In 1993, it was not so common, at least not to my knowledge.

 

I initially wrote a complete tool for DOS. I rewrote the tool, when I was reasonably satisfied that Windows 3.1 was stable. The tool was for my own usage. When I discovered that it would be usable to others, I decided to add Help files and a simulator and to sell it for a small fee.

 

In 1995, MCS started to sell BASCOM-LT, a BASIC compiler for Windows 3.1. It was the first Windows application that offered a complete and affordable solution, editor, compiler, simulator and programmer. BASCOM-LT was a 8051 BASIC compiler. The reason it became popular was that it included a lot of functionality that was easy to use from BASIC. Using an LCD display was simple, just a configuration line to define the used pins and voila, a working application in minutes. When you needed a different LCD display, you could simply change the CONFIG line.

 

When a different processor was needed, you only had to change the name of the definition file. No need for a lot of .h files.

 

Another reason for its success, was that we hide much of the complexity for the user. No ASM to deal with, simple statements. Of course free updates and support.

 

Small companies that used the BASIC Stamp also recognized another advantage : There was no need for expensive modules and the code ran much quicker.

 

When Windows 95 became an industry standard, users also wanted a 32 bit version. A big part of BASCOM-LT was rewritten with the additional support for arrays and floating point (single).

 

With the many different 8051 variants, it was impossible to support all the chips. Having device definition “DAT” files, made it easy for the user to configure the 8051 variants.

 

When Atmel launched the AVR chip, the 8051 compiler was rewritten, once again, to support the powerful AVR chips. The result was BASCOM-AVR.

 

The AVR chip has a lot of internal memory. It uses simple linear memory addressing. The best part, is that you can make the chip program itself. No wonder this chip family became so popular.

 

Since the AVR chip is so powerful, we could extend the compiler as well. We could add features, which are almost impossible to add to the 8051.

 

With more and more users, there was no way I could manage everything in my spare time. So in order to guarantee the future of BASCOM, I decided to work full time for MCS.

 

Today, MCS is still a small company, with only 3 employees and a few contract workers.

 

We believe in free updates and support. With the number of (demo) users, it is however not possible to support everybody. You need to realize that reading and answering emails is time consuming.

 

Not to mention to duplicate used hardware. We are unique, in that we even support hardware!

 

For a long time, we are working on a more professional version of the software.

 

We occasionally add new features to the current BASCOM version.

 

An ARM version is also under development as well.

 

Note, that we do not provide details or time frames, for these versions, nor do we, for other features. Or main concern is support for new processors such as the Xmega, and maintenance.

 

In order to migrate to a new version, it is important that you keep your software up to date. This will make migration more simple.

 

Things we find important :

 

The environment. We reuse all usable packing material like foam, plastic bubbles, when we ship your order.

 

That everybody can use micro processors. They are like all other chips but you can define their behaviour.

 

Customer privacy: We keep your name, details and code confidential.

 

Free updates. They have been free since 1995 but there is no guarantee that they will remain free for ever. The intention is to keep them free. In order to apply for free updates you MUST register your software within 1 year.

 

Free, but limited, support. Limited only, because we do not have the resources to read/answer all emails.  Professional users can get an SLA with guaranteed response time. This is a paid option/service.

 

Support for new chips. It is important to be able to support newly released chips.

 

The customer : We simply add what is requested most. It does not matter what, as long as it is requested a lot and it does makes sense and doesn't conflict with other features.

 

That you have fun with electronics, no matter where you live, no matter which religion you have, no matter how old you are, if you are male or female, purple or white.

 

That you can use the free demo for free. That the DEMO has no nag screens. That you pay for a full version, if you use it commercial. Please do not use cracked software. Only download from the www.mcselec.com domain. Copies from other sites may contain spy ware, virus or other malware. When we detect a cracked version the compiler generates tiny bugs at random which are hard to detect.

 

 

Have fun !

 

Mark Alberts

 

MCS Electronics