Further Informtion on TIMEFRAME unit

The Timeframe unit was one of the items donated to the Snooker Heritage Collection by the family of David Smith.

 Timeframe Red 5

In June 2021 www.snookerheriatge.co.ukreceived an email from Mr. Ales Smith of Dundee, Scotland. He had found the site as he was searching for any mention of the 'TIMEFRAME' unit that he had designed all the electronics for. He found the mention on the site and wrote to introduce himself and correct the original article that sated the units had been made in Leamington Spa .

He was able to confirm that they had been made in Dundee - this fact has now been corrected in the aricle /the-collection/additions/- see the David Smith Collection.

Alex provided the following information:-

I was just reminiscing, as you do, about times gone past and decided to have a look to see if the Timeframe snooker scoreboard was still remembered.
You have the board listed as being produced in Leamington Spa but you might be interested to know it was first produced in Dundee in Scotland.
I know this because I designed all the electronics used in the machine at "Timeframe Ltd." Dundee.
The programming for the unit was written at "DMA Design" in Dundee.
The same people that produced the "Lemmings" game.
You can easily verify my "designer" status by opening the box and looking at the corners of any of the PCB's in it. You should find a "Circle" logo with my initials (AYS) in it. Slight vanity on my part, I'm afraid.


If you managed to get a later version of the machine, it also had an infra red link for use with Pool tables to auto rotate the table mechanism, so the game could continue 'till the playing time ran down.
The machine used "tokens" to start a game off but that should be easily bypassed.
Unfortunately, I don't have any physical parts of a machine, so I'm hoping you might be able to take a couple of photographs of the interior and send them to me?

Many thanks for the photos of the internals of the Timeframe machine. I see my "AYS" logo everywhere, so vanity is fulfilled.

          IMG_1540   IMG_1542  IMG_1541

Brings back many memories as well as showing up my sad lack of same, Re. parts of the machine.

For example, the main board shown in your img1540 tells me the board is an early version WITHOUT the Pool table add on to auto rotate the Pool table mechanism after all the balls were potted but time remained on the display.

Also missing is the 9 pin plug at J7 that was used (when fitted) as a serial interface to a computer.

The 8 way Dip switch set timing on the display.

I was inordinately chuffed with this board as one of the Canadian engineers that stayed after Discus folded said it was the most elegant PCB he had ever seen. No wonder I had a big head !!!

I'm still getting a history of the machine together and I'll get back to you when done


A few days later Alex sent the following information along with an USB stick which had a copy of the T.V. Broadcast of the unit being used in a professional tournament.


With all due respect to Sir Stephen Hawking, I submit;


"A Brief History of TIMEframe".

In 1990, I moved from Ferranti PLC in Dundee, Scotland to Discus Satellites in Kilspindie Rd.

The company was run by Terry and Margaret (Meg) Goldberg.

This company produced a Canadian designed "high end" satellite receiver with a moving dish system.

Unfortunately, Discus came on the scene just as many other companies brought out other units and sales never took off, so the company folded fairly quickly.

In 1991, "Timeframe Technology Ltd." was born with the addition of two "silent" Directors. Ron and Chris Bonar, very well respected names in Dundee.

Ron Bonar famously drove everywhere in a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost and did sterling charity work, particularly for the R.N.L.I.

Chris Bonar was and still is a World renowned yachtsman and a member of Royal Tay Yacht Club.

As I had made some improvements on the Discus Satellite Rx, including an electronic microprocessor programming unit, Terry asked me to design the proposed Snooker timer scoreboard electronics.

The machine was initially intended to time a "Speed Snooker" match against the clock.

THREE clocks, actually!

A "Master" clock that could be set to various times from 10 to 20 minutes and two "Player" clocks that started from HALF the value of the "Master" clock.

"Score" & "Break" displays were incorporated plus individual player keypads and a large triangular impact resistant button to start the game and toggle between players.

In 1991, there were almost no large LED displays in the UK and pretty much no Yellow LEDs at all. Most LEDs were no more than 0.5 inch (12mm), used in calculators and clocks.

Timeframe was unique in not only having both but DUAL COLOUR LEDs as well. The larger LEDs were specially imported for "Timeframe"

The colours of the LEDs was influenced by both Ron and Chris Bonar being Red/Green colour-blind.

Timeframe also became the first importers of Allegro Microsystems high power 32 bit serial to parallel shift register Integrated Circuits to drive the 255 individual LEDs used in the machine.


To the CAD software;

The internal boards were designed using Tsien's Boardmaker 2 CAD software running on DOS 6.2 (remember DOS?) with a "dongle" in the Parallel port of my PC (remember Parallel ports?) to enable the software.


Three attempts produced a working main board and a prototype was sent to DMA Design just down the road for them to design the firmware for the machine. They, quite famously, designed "Lemmings", a game that spread Worldwide.

From start to design finish, took approximately three months.

The directors put together a television deal to host the 1992 run of Pot Black as a "Timeframe" competition.

This seemed to go quite well but if truth be told, only John Parrot appeared to get into the swing of it. I guess having a laugh wasn't to the fancy of the more "strait laced" players?

Unfortunately, thereafter, due to what seemed to be a lack of publicity, the Timeframe project faltered and eventually died.

Of course, no boss could ever have enough and Terry asked for a Serial Communications port to be added to the mainboard.

There was an immediate request to get the machine to handle "Pool" games as well and to that end, an Infra Red link between the machine and a Pool table was designed. This would send a signal to the pool table, that had been fitted with an electric "ball drop" mechanism, so the game would continue 'till the "Master" clock ran down to zero.


However, these features were only built into later versions of Timeframe.

The plan was to supply about 16 machines to Dundee pubs for use in the Pool league, free of charge, to get sales rolling but sadly, that never happened.

Your website indicated that the machines had been produced in England but as far as I'm aware, they were only ever MADE in Scotland.

'Timeframe' did sell off a fairly large number of excess stock at the end, so that's when they might have appeared in England.


I hope this "potted" history is of use.


Alexander Y Smith,

Electronics designer,

Timeframe Technology,



Acknowledgement - Alexander Y Smith


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