Vintage terminals (was Re: PDP-11 available in New Zealand)

Ethan Dicks ethan.dicks at gmail.com
Thu Mar 8 16:16:50 CST 2007


On 3/8/07, David Griffith <dgriffi at cs.csubak.edu> wrote:
> Where can you get real VT52s nowadays?  I haven't seen one on Ebay for at
> least three years.

When I was buying them, it was from DEC resellers for about $35-$50
each, plus shipping.  That was about 20 years ago.  Haven't had to buy
once since.  Never looked on eBay.

These days, real VT52s are a bit thin on the ground.  The
aforementioned one in NZ is the first one I've seen available in the
wild in years.

Perhaps someone could take notice of the dearth of 1970s terminals and
haul some out to a VCF this year?  If they aren't showing up on eBay,
I'd wager that there aren't that many floating around looking for a
new home.  If external appearance is important (i.e., _real_
hardware), then seekers may have a long wait between opportunities.
If internal functionality is the primary importance, then it wouldn't
be that hard to "build a better emulator".  Given that VT100s use an
8-bit microprocessor (8080?), and that VT52s are discrete TTL (a
couple  square feet of it!), the problem is of known complexity... one
just needs to couple some form of hardware to a display and keyboard,
whether it's a microprocessor or an FPGA or what.  It's a lot of work
to build a dumb terminal from scratch, bugs and side-effects of
historical examples being what they are, but the further we get from
the era of dumb terminals, the harder it will become to locate
examples of the originals, making an _accurate_ emulation more
practical.

That having been said, best of luck on your VT52 searches.  It was a
bit of a beast, and back in the day, I think most of us were glad to
upgrade to VT100s, but for a number of years, the VT-52 was _the_
terminal to have on ones desk.

-ethan



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