Tektronix terminals [was: Re: Re: Humpty Dumpty]

Rick Bensene rickb at bensene.com
Fri Feb 9 02:16:15 CST 2007

>> I don't think Tektronix ever made a terminal that wasn't graphics
>> capable :-) and when they went to raster displays from storage
>> I believe they were all color capable.

>I remember at least on counter-example, the 4025.  It was a
>mono raster unit.  We had a 4025 at the research lab of the
>first company I worked for out of college.  It was connected to
>one of those electrostatic printers.  We drove it from a VAX 11/750
>running BSD4.2 and later 4.3.

There was also a 4023 "non-graphic" terminal, significantly prior to the
4025.  It used SSI and MSI TTL logic, early IC-RAM (don't know if it was
dynamic or static), and a MOS character generator.  The CRT used a
rather slow-responding white phosphor that made it a little difficult to
read when it scrolled.  

When I was a Systems Operator (as they were called in those days) of
Tektronix' Scientific Computer Center Control Data Cyber 73, a Tek 4023
terminal was situated next to the big dual vector CRT console.  This
terminal was logged into KRONOS (the timesharing operating system that
ran on Tek's Cyber 73) as an administrative user that would pop up
messages with user requests to do things like mount tapes, and other
messages from users, and the operator could respond through this

The 4025 came significantly later, and I believe, was microprocessor

The coolest Tektronix terminal, if you ask me, was the original Tek
It did use Tek's famous DVST (Direct View Storage Tube) display that was
really made famous by the 4010.  The 4002 (and slightly updated) 4002A
were big terminals, with a "drawer" packed full of electronics.  The
coolest part was the "^G" (bell), which was a really nice tone
generator. I can't remember if it was a hack, or production, but there
was an escape sequence that you could send to change the frequency of
the tone emitted with control-G was received.  With this, people had
written some programs on some a DEC PDP-8 (it may have been a PDP 8/I
IIRC) that could play music on the terminal, while drawing some graphics
on the screen at the same time.  There also was a 'write through' mode,
again, not sure if it was a hack, or part of the production terminals,
that would (within the limitations of the RS-232 port) could do simple
dynamic (non-stored) vector graphics.  There was a little game, again
hosted on the PDP-8 machine, that would play a game where two tanks
opposed each other with interposing landcape (hills or elevation
changes) and players would take turns aiming their gun, and shooting a
shell at the opposing tank.  I also recall that for high-speed use,
there was a direct DMA parallel interface that would hook to a PDP-11
(Unibus) that allowed some actually fairly high-performance vector
graphics on the 4002.

Would love to find a 4002 or 4002A around somewhere.  Would also love to
find one of those 4023's -- it really was a great old terminal.  For a
time, I had one of them at home, hooked up to an acoustic coupler and I
could dial into the Cyber at 1200 baud, and do work from home.

Those were good old days!

Rick Bensene
The Old Calculator Web Museum

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