Reuters SK 101 BL Keyboard

Reuters is one of the biggest news agencies in the world. They supply news to newspapers, radio or TV stations, internet portals. Reuters agency started in 19th century, got popularity on the wave of trans-continental telegraphy, when started to invest in new media of communication.
An important part of Reuters work is not seen in TV news - it's passing financial data for stock exchange, markets and investments. In market transactions information is critical, and has to be delivered very quickly, in both directions. The current situation yields on prices, so it must be constantly updated, while negotiations take place by remote communication systems ending with contracts, signed also with a remote system. All these systems must be fast and reliable, and that's what Reuters made.
Reuters started their digital systems in 1970s, when it was just not possible to manage information by passing endless amounts of teletype tape into different feeds. With the gains from fast information exchange the price was not as important as in consumer market, so their devices always used the latest technologies: Satellite for data delivery, digital telephone network for requests transfer or local networks for sharing data between devices.

My unit has been built around 1988, and a similar one is visible in a EP0434224A2 patent called "Integrated trading" from 1990, where a 386-based systems are used. In 1990 386 was used only in a high-end systems, and the unit described here used at minimum two computers! This had to be a big system with a very high speed... and a very high price.
This is a keyboard from a larger system, consisting of a computer, telephone connection and video conversation device, which was used to conduct buying and selling on a stock exchange. This keyboard in fact is a complete serial terminal with built-in small backlit LCD (one line, 8 characters) and numerous routines for CPU. With a click of a key the numerical pad with display can become a quickly accessible calculator, another key redirects data sent to another channel for different messaging systems, one more key, and a command is sent to the computer to initiate receiving of a graph.
Technically, it is based on Intel 8031 microcontroller, with 64kB of RAM and external ROM which could be replaced for needs. The ROM is banked and all features are implemented as separate routines in separate banks. The keyboard was connected to the central unit using proprietary serial link, as well as it was possible for the system to display quick messages on a built-in LCD (1x16 characters) display.
The terminal has its own power supply unit, speaker and backlit LCD, as well as configurable function keys.

Source: Patent EP0434224A2

Manufacturer: Reuters

Model SK 101 BL
Year: 1988
CPU: Intel 80C31
Memory: 64kB
Display: External CRT display
Internal LCD 1x16
Keyboard: Built-in
Main port: Serial port
Additional ports: Built-in power supply unit





Peripherals in collection:
 - None

My unit had its power supply unit removed so I had to construct one. It is needed to provide 3 voltages: +5V regulated supply for logic, which is about 600mA of current in the worst case, unregulated negative voltage for serial port transceivers (-5V is linearly stepped down from it, not much current needed) and regulated +6.5V for RAM power (0.1-0.2A is totally OK). This last voltage is switched using transistors and in my unit I used a 78L05 with two diodes in ground which, after traosnstor switches, gives RAM about 4.9V. I have used a transformer from old 9V/750mA wall power supply, 7805 with a small heatinsk, 78L05 with diodes and a Gretz bridge. Ground was in the center tap of transformer.

The pinout of power connector is following: +5V, GND, GND, -7V, +6.5V, it is in two rows, but they are connected with each other.

The unit will not start without a computer, but it can be forced into operating mode. The reset pin on the CPU (marked by arrow on PCB) is driven using a hybrid chip, but it can be "hijacked" and shorted to ground using a switch. Then it should reset and show "REUTERS" and version on screen, also it should be able to enter at least setup and calculator mode.

 - - Reuters technical development chronology.
 - - in collection,
 - - Keyboard driver board in collection, photos available.