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12 July 1952
|Known for||Design of Galaksija home computer|
Vojislav "Voja" Antonić (Serbian Cyrillic : Воја Антонић, pronounced [ˈʋɔja ˈantɔnitɕ] ʾ, 12 July 1952) is a Serbian inventor, journalist and writer. He was also a magazine editor and contributed to a number of radio shows but he is best known for creating a build-it-yourself home computer Galaksija and originating a related "Build your own computer Galaksija" initiative with Dejan Ristanović. This initiative encouraged and enlightened thousands of computer enthusiasts during the 1980s in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Mr. Antonić donated many of his personally creations to the public domain, whenever they related to the common people or a fellow engineer.
While in school, Voja Antonić found a passion for HAM radios. He obtained a licence and a callsign to broadcast his own waves. One day, the state police seized all CB Band units known to operate in the country, creating a new trend for HAM radio units which bored Voja Antonić who decided to move on towards new digital technologies.
His first creation with a microprocessor was Conway's Game of Life machine that shows its state using 16x16 matrix of red LEDs. Without a computer, Voja Antonić wrote the code on paper and operated the input in the system byte by byte using rotary switches. LEDs being expensive back then, it took him months to buy and install the last LEDs. A replica of his machine reportedly worked flawlessly almost continuously for 40 years.
When personal computers arrived on the market, they were not accessible in Yugoslavia. Voja Antonić asked a friend in the USA to disassemble a TRS-80 Model I and send it to him and received it labelled as "technical junk". He received it, reassembled it, and started his new computer passion.
While studying at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in the late 1970s, he started to build computer systems capable of rendering animations.
Prior to the Winter of 1981/1982 Skiing Federation of Serbia timed the competitors using regular stopwatches and hand signaling. The upcoming Balkan competition required this to be improved and more precise. In 1981, Antonić created a small, battery powered computer packed together with liquid crystal display, printer and keyboard in Samsonite suitcases. Over the years five different models were built, named from "Arbitar" to "Arbitar 5", and were used for many years. In 1982, he designed an alarm system for Elektronika inženjering.
In 1983, Antonić learned of the interesting way to have the CPU generate video signal, without the use of specialized video circuitry. He thought of this as a good idea for an inexpensive, build-it-yourself computer. Galaksija (pronounced Galaxiya, meaning Galaxy) was featured in the special edition Računari u vašoj kući (Computers in your home) of a popular science magazine of the same name, published late December 1983 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Voja Antonić essentially released Galaksija to public domain and never required any compensation for it. He wanted it to be a project anyone can undertake and received only the compensation for writing the magazine article itself, not the computer. At least 8,000 were built by do-it-yourself computer hackers.
In 1983, his friend Zoran Modli launched a new section on his national radio show focused on microcomputers. Since data coding was performed in audio range (to fit the format of compact cassettes), Voja Antonić and his radio host friend started using the radio waves to transfer computer-generated data, their own online wireless technology of the predigital age.
In 1991, when the war broke in Yugoslavia, Voja Antonić was taken to a remote quarter to be checked by the military. Confessing he was a computer engineer, he was asked to repair an old Apple II, which he did in a day. This earned him the favors of the military forces. During this period, he joined several anti-war and anti-Milošević campaigns, writing articles against terror.
In 1995, while going through a difficult time in his life, he threw away almost all of his projects, including the documentation and five prototypes of the Galaksija microcomputer.
In 1999, Voja Antonić created a logic analyzer, probe, serial interface receiver and frequency counter device based on Microchip Technology PIC16F84 microcontroller. It eventually became Microchip's Application Note 689 (AN689) but was subsequently removed. Microchip explained that Yugoslavia was facing an embargo from the USA, making it impossible to promote his technology worldwide. Although the work was published, the only compensation asked by Voja Antonić, a Microchip in-circuit emulator MPLAB-ICE 1000, was never sent to Antonić.
In 2006, Microchip restored the Application Note 689 and delivered a In-Circuit Debuggers to Voja Antonić.
He donated a copy of the Galaksija to the Muzej Nauke i Tehnike (Museum of Science and Technology) in Belgrade.
Voja Antonić wrote a number of short stories for his appearances in "Modulacije" (eng. Modulations) radio show hosted by Zoran Modli. He personally read them during live public broadcasts.
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