August 9, 2023

[Mesa, Arizona] – Today marks the 1-year anniversary of the CHIPS and Science Act (H.R.4346) signing, a momentous occasion that has opened doors to a new era of computing education. In the past year, the Act has brought together industry partners, colleges, and universities from around the world to create System On Chip (SOC) Design and Tapeout Classes. At the heart of this educational transformation lies the legendary 6502 microprocessor, a key player in the digital revolution that changed the world of computers forever.

The 6502 microprocessor, an 8-bit microprocessor that powered the Apple I, holds a special place in the history of technology. According to Stephen Cass in the 30 JUN 2017 edition of IEEE Spectrum, “When one particular geek stuck one particular chip into one particular computer circuit board and booted it up, the universe skipped a beat.” That geek was Steve Wozniak, and the chip was the 6502, which went on to power not only the Apple I but also the Apple IIc and IIe, as well as numerous other systems, including life support pacemakers and defibrillators.

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of industry-leading companies, including Arm Limited, Cadence Design Systems, Inc., CMC Microsystems, and The Western Design Center, Inc. (WDC), the 6502 microprocessor is now the keystone of computing education. Professors and students will be able to delve into the details of the actual CMOS microprocessor still in production and used in various critical systems.

The SOC Design and Tapeout Classes, first taught at ASU from 1994-1998 and now expanding to Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, will empower students to apply the 6502 microprocessor for embedded intelligence technology (EIT) solutions. The curriculum will cover a new design approach with GDSII to ASIC and Verilog RTL to ASIC design flow, providing hands-on experience with the development process.

Bill Mensch, Founder, and CEO of WDC expressed his excitement about the milestone, stating, “WDC is proud to have played a pioneering role in the microprocessor IP business, and we are committed to enriching Computer Science and Engineering education. The 6502 microprocessor offers a unique learning tool, connecting the past, present, and future of computing.”

The impact of the 6502 microprocessor on education is undeniable. It has not only revolutionized the way we learn about technology but also serves as a testament to the enduring spirit of innovation. The 6502 continues to inspire and empower students and educators, bridging the gap between early computing and the potential of future generations.

As we celebrate this milestone, WDC remains dedicated to providing Edtech support for global learning opportunities. From solderless breadboards to FPGA and VLSI Chip design, educators and students will have access to a rich array of resources and project ideas. Through collaborative partnerships with industry leaders, WDC ensures that educators have the tools they need to foster a new generation of tech-savvy innovators.

WDC is also pleased to invite educators to explore the WDC 6502 Museum and Archives, where the birthplace of the digital revolution can be experienced first-hand. Additionally, WDC supports PreK-6 educational and learning opportunities with the low-cost MENSCH™ Microcomputer and WDCTools platform, promoting entrepreneur and innovation concepts.

Join us in celebrating the 1-year anniversary of the CHIPS and Science Act and the educational legacy of the 6502 microprocessor. Together, let’s inspire the next generation of computer scientists, engineers, and innovators.

For media inquiries, please contact: Bill Mensch, WDC Founder and CEO

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About WDC: The Western Design Center, Inc. (WDC) is an Edtech company providing 6502 Microprocessor Chips, Boards, and IP for global learning opportunities at the cross-section of technology, interactive hands-on experience, and project-based personalized learning methodologies. Since 1981, WDC has been a pioneer in the microprocessor IP business and the fabless semiconductor business model, eliminating the need for second sourcing.