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UVA Computer Science Museum 186

Cryptographrix writes "Just came across this site, thought slashdot users should check it out, definately worth a read, has everything from the original Osborne portable computer to such memorables as the Altair...supposedly from the UVA staff's personal collection. Even has old (1950's and another board that looks like ESS3, maybe) telephone switching equipment."
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UVA Computer Science Museum

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  • by ObviousGuy ( 578567 ) <> on Monday June 17, 2002 @12:45AM (#3713561) Homepage Journal
    I haven't been to the actual museum, so this is simply an observation about the website.

    The grouping in the article is all wrong. It clumps pictures and articles together by manufacturer. This is great for something like a research document, but for a museum it is terrible. By the time the reader gets acquainted with the devices made by Altair, he gets thrown back in time to get acquainted with the Osborne, and so on.

    A better system would be to simply line up the pictures and articles in a timeline where each device can be compared to each other device in a logical manner. The reader can get a feel for how computers evolved from large breadboards to the tiny microchips of today.
    • By the time the reader gets acquainted with the devices made by Altair, he gets thrown back in time to get acquainted with the Osborne, and so on.

      In what timeline did the Osborne come out before the Altair?

      Certainly not this one.
    • I love old computers and over the years i've visited more than a few of these museum-site's.

      These are my two favorites:

      - : [] a fairly new, well maintained site. They already have a big database and it's growing day by day.

      - obsolete computer museum: [] One of the first really good site's.

    • I graduated from UVA and spent more than my fair share of time in Olson (the CS building). The museum (such as it is) is aranged in a glass case around the interior wall of the building (And thus takes up a quite substantial amount of space). More bulky items litter lounges and personal offices of some professors.

      The case itself is aranged as a timeline progression. I think the grouping by manufacturer is simply to allow users of the site to pull the image of whateveritis they need right now as fast as possible.

  • by NetRanger ( 5584 ) on Monday June 17, 2002 @12:48AM (#3713574) Homepage
    ...that we'd be so happy to see things we never want to have to use again. :-)
    • ...that we'd be so happy to see things we never want to have to use again. :-)

      I don't know about you, but I just installed the latest version of netatalk [] on my LFS server and got my Apple IIGS talking to it through a Cayman GatorBox CS. Now if they'll just add MacIP support to Marinetti [], I'll be able to put my GS on the net without having to do SL/IP or PPP through another box. (Having it access files on my Linux server and my Mac is good enough for the time being, though.)

      • Can you get a IIgs to net boot off netatalk yet? We used to have a lab full of IIgs's netbooting off a Mac IIcx AppleShare 2.x server (LocalTalk, baby!) back at my middle school years ago, and it worked incredibly well. So fast, too, when I was used to the speed of GS/OS booting off 800K floppies at home...

        I'd pull my IIgs out of the closet if I could get this to work again.
        • Can you get a IIgs to net boot off netatalk yet?

          I haven't tried that yet. I suppose it'd be a neat hack, but since I have a 340MB SCSI hard drive (w00t! :-) ) in mine, I've not had much impetus to get it working. (It'd be a useful capability for my IIe if I had a Workstation Card for it...only problem is that I don't have one, and a hard-disk controller would probably cost about the same and would be more useful.)

      • >Cayman GatorBox CS.

        I've got one of these (althout I'm not sure its the CS model)...

        Can you provide any links, software, or help in using it? Last time I checked out Cayman's site (a while ago, admittedly) they weren't much help. :-(

        I'd just be interested to see what I can do with it... Its my last bit of fully functioning never-used possibly useful hardware. :-)
        • Cayman GatorBox CS.

          I've got one of these (althout I'm not sure its the CS model)...

          Can you provide any links, software, or help in using it? Last time I checked out Cayman's site (a while ago, admittedly) they weren't much help. :-(

          Netopia bought out Cayman a while back. Firmware updates and utility software for legacy products were on their website just a few months ago, but they're gone now. Email me if you want me to send the files (warning: you'll need a Mac with LocalTalk ports to do anything with them).

          You might find these pages useful for setting up your GatorBox:

  • 50 years from now... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by destinyland ( 578448 ) on Monday June 17, 2002 @12:49AM (#3713578)
    They'll probably have an exhibit about "The 90s: wireless, laptops and the days of exploration." And people will shake their heads and wonder how we lived like this.

    Just imagine high school science-class field trips laughing at the very system you're using now...

    Destiny-land [].
    The happiest blog on earth.

    • 50 years from now? More like 10 years from now....if that.
    • The 90s: wireless, laptops and the days of exploration

      You saw a working wireless computing product that was of some use?

      Besides a universal remote control? (and even those are horribly dodgy, ick).

      I've yet to see one. . . . (unless you count x10, but that is hardly a miracle of modern science, more like a wireless transmitter shoved onto the end of a cheapo digicam. :p )
  • There are no Quadras... [] where are all the Quadras?

    Seriously - nice to see an online museum that ISN'T merely a collection of 80s personal computers. The more information about the common machines from the 50s and 60s the better - 70s boxies are well known relatively...

    a grrl & her server []
  • OK, now SOL has got to be from a company without a marketing department.

    "Hey, my SOL quit working !"

    "Well, I guess you're just S.O.L. []"

  • Does it have an Abicus?!?
    They were the first true computers!
  • Punch cards (Score:3, Funny)

    by prockcore ( 543967 ) on Monday June 17, 2002 @01:12AM (#3713636)
    Wow, every time I see a punch card I'm simply amazed that people used to do anything useful with them.. I find punch cards more amazing that any new technology.

    I tried to write a program using punch cards once, but instead of a nice sort routine, I accidentally voted for Pat Buchannen.

    • Hey, I learned to program (and type!) using a punchcard machine. Can you remember the trick for inserting and deleting characters using an IBM 026 / 029 card punch? :-)
      • Didn't know how to insert, but I seem to recall a "ERASE" key, which punched all 12 rows. (If you did a whole card of them, you had a lace card).

        How about this:

        $JOB KP=26

    • Re:Punch cards (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ender81b ( 520454 )
      Personally, I read the brochure [] on the burroughs B500 and was just a wee bit scared:

      "A master control program to automatically manipulate machine programs, allocate memory, assign equipment, and route all information.

      Found that quite humurous - I wonder if that is where the tron script writers got the idea? Reading the brochure was odd - I am a youngin' and know very little about very old computers (relatively...), and was quite curious about the description [] of the chip: "processors operate on 49 bit words (48 bits plus parity bit)"... where these chips then 49 bit? From the sound of the brochure it makes it seem like the entire system was 49 bit (memory, storage, etc). Or was it like a 4 bit processor that just used 49 bit commands?

      Anybody know?
      • A quick glean at the brochure clearly shows, that it is a full 49 bit system including memory and storage access.

        The actual commands only use 12 bit blocks (more than one for most commands though) which are packed 4:1 into said words (the bit left is obviously used for parity).

      • Re:Punch cards (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jeremyp ( 130771 )
        My first real job in the late 80s was on the Burroughs B5900 and A10 series which were modern (for the time) implementations of the same architecture. If Unisys still builds mainframes, they probably still use that architecture.

        The machine was optimised for Algol and used a stack based architecture meaning that your arithmetic ops etc were done on the top elements of the stack rather than numbers in registers. There was hardware support for creating an Algol stack frame. I'm not 100% sure but I think there was a set of registers to keep track of the scope levels (C has only two levels of scope: local and global. Algol like Pascal can define procedures that contain other procedures recursively which complicates the scoping somewhat).

        The programmer only actually saw 48 bits of the 49 bit word. For real numbers, each word was divided into a mantissa and an exponent + 2 bits for the sign of each of those. An integer was merely a real number with a zero exponent. I'm a bit hazy, but I think it used ones complement i.e. (assuming the mantissa sign bit is bit 47, -1 is represented as 800000000001 in hex, not FFFFFFFFFFFF, so you could negate a number merely by flipping bit 47.

        If your program crashed, a crash dump would be produced on the line printer. Usually it would take about half a box of fanfold paper which you'd then have to wade through in conjunction with the program listing matching stack frames and variables to the correct names. I remember how we rejoiced after one MCP upgrade when the lines of the crash dumps suddenly started coming out with variable names printed next to them.
    • Ah, punched cards. What I miss most about them is having something reasonably sized and reasonably robust to use for recording the odds'n'ends of useful information that I need from time to time, but which isn't available in a convenient summary form in other documentation. Back in the late 70's some of us had whole sets of such cards held together with loose rings along with the official manufacturers' reference cards; occasionally you'd see that someone had platic-laminated a particularly vital card for additional longevity.

      No worries about losing data if batteries ran out, either!
      • Plus, as "Einstein" Broderick, the wacky Virginia Tech physics professor I had in the late 80's, used to say, you could whip out a pen knife and edit your code while waiting in traffic.

        He kept a keypunch in his office because he _liked_ cards. I had a Fortran class on cards in 1982, but for everything else we used the Vax 11/780 or IBM PC's. By 1987, Broderick was probably about the only one still using cards at VT.

    • i worked as a grunt in the archives of the library at the College of William & Mary (how's that for a crappy sentence?), and i ran into some really coooooool stuff, including boxes full of people's personal effects (professor's glasses, medals, etc.), and boxes full of student records, complete with pictures of them holding _PUNCH CARDS_!

      my memory is a little hazy here, but they were holding them a la mugshot style, they were maybe 12"x6", and i believe they had their name written on them as well. but the really interesting thing that i noticed was that these were photos of students holding punch cards into the 80s (again, my memory is not great, but i think it was til '83).

  • Jeez!

    Cool idea for a product (and probably a patent): a stored dictionary, which one could use to check spelling before posting anything on the Internet.
  • "Daddy, how did the MPAA and the RIAA prevent people from copying music and movies on those computers?"

    "Son, at that time, they hadn't yet convinced the government how horrible it is to allow PC's without copy protection to exist. And the people who invented those computers were really communists, intent on destroying America."

    "Well, we know better now, right, daddy?"

    "Yes, son... of course. The MPAA always knew what was best for us. Bless their wisdom. Let's go listen to your new best of Britney Spears album."

    • Thats not funny at all man! Thanks to you I'm going to have nightmares for next few days.
    • Obviously you don't remember those computers. I remember clearly programs that timed how long if took to seek from one sector to anouther. (MULE only loaded 1 time out of 7 on my comptuer because my disk drive was 1 RPM faster than standard). I remember several programs where they took a laser to the disk at the factory, and then tried to write to that spot, easy to copy, but the program wouldn't run if it could write to where the laser hole was. And then there were programs with weak secotrs (read 5 times get 5 different results), dongoles, look up something on page n.

      I think in every case someone hacked the program. I know a few people who bought the real version, and never opened the box, they copied the hacked version so they didn't have to deal with copy protection, which didn't consistently let the honest people in.

  • by WetCat ( 558132 ) on Monday June 17, 2002 @01:22AM (#3713669)
    go to Russian Computer Museum []
  • ...was that they made portable solar arrays to take with you to power the thing (they were *huge*) and that Infocom produced games for it. :)
  • I wonder if they need a wonderfully kept Tandy TRs-80 color computer in mint condition with all the bells and whistles. Anbody else got these around?
    • Yeah, I do! Though it's the model 4 with a built-in monochrome screen. Now if only I could find someone that wants the three boxes full of software and manuals for thing too.
      • Heh, actually, I sometimes miss the portable version of the Model 4 that Radio Shack made for a while. (It was the Model 4P.) Probably just about as big an item to lug around as the Osborne computer was - but it seemed to be a generation or two more advanced, at least.

        Been years since I messed with one of those things, but I recall thinking the Orchestra-90 music add-on board was really neat. I remember owning the Orch-90 cartridge on a Tandy Color Computer and exchanging music files for it with Model 4/4P owners who had their version of the same board. (You had to do some sort of data conversion to make them play between systems, but it wasn't a big deal.)
    • Re:TRS-80 (Score:3, Interesting)

      Just sold a TRS-80 Color Computer III with 512k, 20MB bootable hard drive, RS-232 port and 720k floppy on eBay with OS-9 pre-installed and a pile of software.

      It's been sitting in my garage since the early '90s, when I switched first to a Sun 3/80 and then to Linux on a 386DX/25.

      I've also got a TRS-80 Model I system with monitor, expansion unit and floppy drive sitting in the garage, but I don't think I'll part with that one yet...
      • How the heck do you get OS9 running on a TRS-80? It won't even run on my Mac LC III!
      • You know, there are *still* a few people out there supporting the Tandy Color Computers - but mostly, it's become possible to use them through emulation. That's primarily why I don't mind having sold all my old "CoCo" stuff.
  • ...can I get Debian to install on any of these bad boys? ;P
  • You guys notice the cray 3 GaAs chip as part of the "cray gift", and how it says they wanted to bond the chip directly to the board instead of packing it first?

    it never worked -- not because of the lack of money either -- a problem people rarely thinks about is that silicon and PCB material (FR4, for example) has different thermal characteristics -- so when the chip heats up, it heats up the board under it, and then "snap" -- especially considering the small dimension of the contact pad on the chips are (and they are getting smaller and smaller -- making probing (wafer testing) a REALLY exact science) in relationship to the difference in length from the thermal expansion.

    it's not until recently, where advances in material sciences (it would actually have to be considered a breakthrough) enabled flip-chip mounts

  • Figures (Score:2, Funny)

    by vthokie69 ( 549779 )
    Leave it to UVA to put all that information on one long page with lots of graphics. It's really great for modem users. GO HOKIES!!!!!!!
    • Um, cause putting it on a bunch of different pages would somehow make the data take up less space?

      I mean, really. It looks like the images have "height" and "width" markers which allows any reasonable browser to lay out the pages after the (minimal amount of) text is downloaded. What would splitting up the page, a volunteer effort, do for viewers again?

  • AST SixPak (Score:4, Funny)

    by Kris_J ( 10111 ) on Monday June 17, 2002 @02:04AM (#3713790) Homepage Journal
    I'm sure my first PC had an AST SixPak at one time or another. I also remember it taking two and a half minutes to load Win3.0 (from the C: prompt, not from switch-on) on my 19MHz XT with 512k of disk cache in Expanded memory. How things have changed. Now it takes ten minutes to load Windows XP on my 1+GHz P3.
    • ... And 15 minutes to load Linux RedHat. Just kidding. But still, it takes longer for RedHat to start than XP. Maybe I too should start putting MS down, atleast I would get more Karma.
    • Now it takes ten minutes to load Windows XP on my 1+GHz P3.

      Whatfuckingever. I have precisely eleventeen million services installed on my XP box, and it still takes under 60 seconds to get from power-good to the Welcome screen. Anything over 90 seconds is just plain wrong. If it does indeed take 120+ seconds, you've probably broken something.
      • If anything's broke it came that way. I do get "outdated firmware" errors in my event log, plus ATAPI time-outs. I've already taken the bastard back to service once, now I'm just trying to get work done.
  • you think to yourself: "Why the Hell did they put that in the museum? I remember running one of those things when I was a teenager..."
  • Imagine a Beowulf cluster of....

  • Of course it is not a great exhibit. But as something put together by donations from staff, I think it is darn nifty. In fact, I am jealous because my Alma matter Virginia Tech [] doesn't have a similar setup. I always felt VA Tech was more for the real geeks and UVA [] was more for the business minded people. UVA is way too greek to be true geek (coo! I just made that up). So I guess I'm going to have to campaign for a museum at VA Tech now. It might be hard because I live on other side of planet now, but it could be made easier by the fact they regularly auctioned off crap.. erh I mean exhibits... this old in auctions. At least they were doing so a few years ago. So how about it! I'm sure there are more than a few Hokies reading Slashdot. Get to work!
    • I always felt VA Tech was more for the real geeks and UVA was more for the business minded people. UVA is way too greek to be true geek (coo! I just made that up)

      Eh? Take a look at the research (and quality thereof) at the two different schools. Really, neither school is particularly stellar but where does anyone get this idea? I don't know of anyone keeping records on the greekness of CS students, but I know that UVA SEAS supports three different fraternities by itself. With only a few hundred people in the school itself one might assume that even if UVAs CS people are particularly greek, they probably heard very tightly.

      BTW, this collection actually resulted from basically never throwing stuff out. In stead of taking up previously unused lab space parts of the relics are mounted in cases in the upstairs hallways of Olsson hall.

      I do admit VA Tek deserves props for requiring students to load FreeBSD on their machines early in the CS curriculum (they still do that, right?).

      • Well. It is hard to say, for sure. I admit I don't really have that much exposer to UVA. But I had a choice between the schools and didn't get, as lame as it sounds, a good "vibe" from UVA during my 2 visits there, so I choose Tech. The greek system encourages, to a certain degree, conformity that I always felt was anti-geek. I mean geek means different things to different people. But just being a CS student does not make you a geek, IMHO. Of course the exception can be found in the ever classis Revenge of the Nerds.
      • Nah, they stopped doing the FreeBSD around 1996 and 1997. For a while, from 1993 to 1994, they required the CS students to buy DEC Alphas at an outrageously low price. Considering at the time, you got a super nice 17 inch monitor which was unheard of at the time. The CS dept is moving toward cross compatibility with the installs of the NT workstations and requiring that students that do projects, the ability to do cross platform installs or write decent Makefiles so they will compile on any *nix boxes in the lab.

        The last time I took a CS class, back in the fall of 1999 which was an operating systems class, we were given the option to write in any language we want provided that we document the compile and install procedures to the T which isn't horrible.

        The engineering dept at one point required the install of FreeBSD or Linux for a class, but they too have gone away from that and now just do the pgoramming classes in Visual Studio. I do believe students have the option to write and code in *nix environment, but it more so of a 'don't tell and don't teach' policy. I remember one semester where we had to install Linux, and they recommend slackware. As long as we installed some sort of *nix environment on our pc, it was cool. But now, I don't think any classes even talk about installation or sys admin, or anything like that of the sort. It is really gone on the wayside at least from what I have heard. Though, I am still sure there are lots of people on campus that are in engineering, cs, or also the other majors that use linux since there is a large Linux User group on campus that still do install fest during the fall and spring semesters....

        ahh the good old days... anyone going back to tech anytime soon? i'll be making a trip back myself to visit the campus after being away for 2 years and sure would be cool to be at sharkeys again :-)

        go hokies :-)
    • I'm starting my third year as a CpE [] major at UVA (though I'm more of a CS major, and most of my friends are CS majors). I really haven't had much exposure to the greek system here. I mean, yeah, I know where the frat houses are mostly located, and could probably find a few hundred drunk fratboys on a friday night, but I know and associate with very few of them. There really aren't all that many in the engineering school either, they're mainly in the college of arts and sciences.
  • Read the label carefully on that verbatim floppy [] ... It says it's a l33t warez copy of Zork Text adventure
  • It's one of the few places of the world where most if not any of the old media (punch cards or wirings) can be converted to new media (floppy/cdrom).

    It's quite impressive if you get a change to actually see it. I also liked the story where computers would actually blow up if not being used for a long time, this due to old moving parts that would dry out or expand during the years. Luckily they have a tool shop where they can rebuild certain parts.
  • For those interested you should go check out The Computer Museum History Center [] (I find the timeline [] especially interesting). I stumbled upon it when I visited the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California. Although the guys there were in a meeting they were kind enough to hand us three issues of Core magasine publication as well as giving us a quick look-see around the premises.
  • This has nothing to do with the current topic, but can someone please explain me why before login on, I just go an add for Visual Studio .NET??? I didn't know /. was advertising for microsoft...
  • Only 26.2 POUNDS!! WOW!! maybe then I could get some exercise! And I'll have no problems calculating the circumference of a circle with that blazing fast 4MHZ!!!! That 60k sure will come in handy with the assembly I'd have to code too!!

    heh.. I can't wait to see what my future kids will be saying about the laptops and desktops of today.. "Wow, Grandpa?? You really had to actually use *only* a Gigahertz!!??? With *only* 80 *giga*bytes of space? How did you ever get by???"

  • by JPZ ( 42691 )
    Took me a while to realize that this was the University of Virgina instead of the University of Amsterdam [] (also abbreviated UVA), which has a computer museum [] as well.

  • Ah the joy of a decent manual []!
    I remember going from MS-DOS 3.2 to 6.2, and wondering why the hell they had removed all useful information from the manual. The 3.2 manual had detailed memory maps, irq listings, an ascii table, keyboard layouts, serial and parallel pinouts, etc. The 6.2 manual just glossed over some commands.
    • I recall the same experience with the Apple ][ reference manual. The first ones were essentially all technical information. By the time the later Apple ][e systems came out (IIRC) they were sanitized to remove all the scary "how it really works" stuff.

  • You know when your old when some of that stuff you used or have seen in person!

    What no S50 bus computer? Just the S100 stuff?

    Wonder why no pickett slide rules?
  • by NewtonsLaw ( 409638 ) on Monday June 17, 2002 @04:08AM (#3714048)
    Hey, nice to see the Osborne in there -- I wrote my first accounting suite in Pascal MT+ for the Osborne. Managed to get an entire invoicing, stock control and debtors ledger on a single floppy disk and ended up selling several thousand copies.

    But what about the earlier machines that broke new ground:

    The CompuColor. This was a great machine. It only had an 8080 processor but was one of the very first "off the shelf" machines to come with amazing (from memory) 128x128 8-color graphics. It also had the disk-drive built into the color screen with a whole 84Kbytes of formatted storage.

    The Commodore Pet. Just as every movie ever made to day has an apple of some flavor in it, the Commodore Pet used to be the favorite choice of movie makers when they needed to show a microcomputer somewhere. It's very distinctive looks made it instantly recognizable -- but its lackuster performance and monochrome character-based graphics was a disappointment

    The TRS80 model 1. This was the main competition to the Apple II in the late 1970's. I actually preferred it to the Apple as it had a much more powerful BASIC interpreter (double-precision math!) and could be easily converted to display proper lower-case characters. It also had a decidedly flakey expansion unit that could hold up to 32 or 48K of RAM and from which up to four floppy drives could be daisy chained. Add some double-sided, double-density 80-track drives plus a copy of NewDos80 and you could get up to 1.6MB per drive for a whopping total of 6.4MB of online storage!!! Woah, be still my beating heart.

    The Intertec SuperBrain. This was a really odd box that looked just like a mainfraime terminal with keyboard, screen and drives all integrated into one whopping great case. It had two 4MHZ Z80 processors -- but only one was ever processing at a time because the second was dedicated solely to the task of polled disk I/O. Looking at the schematics and firmware it appears very much as if the designers used this method because they were too stupid to write good software for a single CPU. Its real claim to fame was that it was one of the first microcomputers with any real networking capability. If you bought one of their enormous 8MB server boxes (with a 8" hard drive) you could then connect up to 255 SuperBrain computers to it using a star topography network that ran over an inflexible and awkward 40-way ribbon cable.

    There were numerous other very popular machines out there such as the Ohio Superboard -- a real hacker's delight. For your money you got a built-up circuit board with a full QWERTY keyboard right their on the PCB. You had to add your own power supply, case, monitor, etc -- but they were dirt cheap.

    I used to love going to computer shows back in the late 1970's and early 1980s because there was always something *radically* different to see.

    These days everything's just a slightly different flavor of IBM PC :-(

    Of course I'm a *real* hacker from way-back who built my first computer from scratch back in 1977 and then had to write and hand-assemble my own macro assembler before I could write a BASIC interpreter.

    The processor was a Signetics 2650 CPU running at a whopping 1MHZ.

    I started with just 1KB of of static ram and when I spent a small fortune to 4Kbytes I thought I was in heaven.

    Believe it or not, I actually made some money from programming way back then. I'd hire out my computer to various shops where it would display a scrolling message I'd programmed (in my own BASIC) on a computer screen in the store Window.

    In those days, the whole idea of a small computer and computer-generated scrolling text on a screen was so unusual that people would stop and look for many minutes. Great advertising for the stores which hired my little box and paid me to program in their message.

    Geez I feel old :-)
    • The Commodore Pet. Just as every movie ever made to day has an apple of some flavor in it, the Commodore Pet used to be the favorite choice of movie makers when they needed to show a microcomputer somewhere. It's very distinctive looks made it instantly recognizable -- but its lackuster performance and monochrome character-based graphics was a disappointment

      Nah, it had exactly the same performance as the Apple II because it had exactly the same processor in it. In the days when the Apple II and Pet were state of the art, it was normal for computers to have a monochrome screen which, incidentally, you got for free with the Pet.

      The Apple had better and colour graphics, but the Pet had the ability to display lower case characters which was more important then for a business PC.

    • The CompuColor. This was a great machine. It only had an 8080 processor but was one of the very first "off the shelf" machines to come with amazing (from memory) 128x128 8-color graphics. It also had the disk-drive built into the color screen with a whole 84Kbytes of formatted storage.
      What about the downsides of the CompuColor []?
      • Very poorly put together (I worked in a computer store at the time, and clearly recall the owner/technician/salesman cursing the unreliability of the thing. It was hard to keep the display model working, let alone the one's he'd sold...
      • You had to buy pre-formatted floppies from the manufacturer. The "format floppy" command was really justan "erase" command. The OS couldn't (wouldn't) format floppies on its own.
      • The pixel-addresssible graphics mode was really broken up into little regions that (coincidentally?) were about the same size/shape as a character cell (my recollection: 384x256, which would be 64x32 character cells at 6x8 pixels each, but I may be wrong). You could only have two colors in any one cell: foreground and background. If you drew two lines that crossed in a cell, the color of the pixels from the first line would coerce the pixels from the first line into the new color. So, while you could individually address all those pixels, you couldn't really control the colors properly.
      On the plus side, it had a really cool color Star Trek game, that used the limited graphics in ingenious ways. I think it had a very flexible character generator, and the game was all done by creating a custom character set that had little enterprises, klingons and romulans...

      I'm not even going to get started on the NorthStar Horizon [] (64K of RAM!, dual floppies!, case made of WOOD!), or I'll start showing my age.

      Whoops, too late.

  • I always thought the UvA Computermuseum [] was over here.

    /. editors should check articles for typos.
  • The Computer Science department [] of the K.U.Leuven [] also has a museum [] online, although the computers in there are not as old as the ones in the UVA computer museum.
  • is it just me, or do you also find that the B5000 kinda turns you on?

  • Let us know when they get a real antique personal computer like the Simon [], circa 1950.

  • (It's been discussed in a previous /. thread, I know)

    In 1999, the late and lamented Boston Computer Museum closed its doors and moved organizationally to the Museum of Science [], while its artifacts moved to The Computer Museum History Center [] in Moffett Field, California.

    Here's a last-gasp look [] at its virtual existance, thanks to
  • Back in 1996, I worked about 15 feet from the computer museum as a modeler/texture-mapper for the alice project, which is now at carnegie mellon but at that time was still at the UVa CS dept. I spent much of the summer sleeping in a couch in the lab, and would walk past many of the old computer display cases when I would wake up and go to the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face. I have to say, it was easy to spend hours wandering along those display cases; but what always struck me was that modern computers not only look the same, but they *continue* to look the same. Were I to dissasemble the circe 1994/5 SGI I used in the alice lab, it would probably not look much different from the circa 2000 SGI desktop I'm typing this at right now.
    I guess bland homogeneity is what we pay for standardization and progress, but it seems like there is no concept of unique technologies anymore, or at least unique technologies that can be observed without a microscope.
    Well, that's all, I just got a pang of nostalgia seeing the museum mentioned.
  • Gee, and I thought they might have a shot of one of those VAX assembler code manuals with all 340+ instruction codes. :-> Now, that's fun programming.
  • I love the colsole with the ash tray on it. Some old IBM consoles had built-in ash trays.

    Back then people used to smoke in grocery stores, drop the butt on the isle floor and stomp it out. The employees would later sweep it up.

    My how things have changed. . . .
  • Take some time reading about the B5000. Please note that it did multiprocessing, compilers into machine language, system reconfiguration without reprogramming resource defines, etc.

    And all of it written in ALGOL, the great grandfather of C and the first machine-portable language.

    Then consider the B6700, which among other things brought us virtual memory and the aforementioned resource stacks. Add in CANDE, WFL and a system that can restart it's jobs in recovery mode right after a Halt/Load (reboot/IPL), a database that could do online backups in the 1980s, and you have THE mainframe. This stuff was so far ahead of IBM that IBM kind of caught up somewhere in 1989, after Burroughs was busy shooting itself in the foot becoming Unisys.

    Alas, the same magnificent engineers created an I/O bottleneck monster with their design that they never quite got fixed. That, and Burroughs never built a sales force like IBM. So IBM continued to whack them even though Burroughs had an utterly superior product. Then the Unisys merger disaster occurred, and Burroughs never recovered. Now they sell A-series MCP emulators running on souped-up superservers, but really sell those 20-way NT boxes.

    And so like the Amiga, we must salute a superior design that never dominated like it should have.

    Bow to MCP!!!!

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.