PDP-8/e and terminals in West Sussex, UK
arcarlini at iee.org
Wed Nov 5 18:23:55 CST 2008
Jules Richardson wrote:
> Interesting question. Are we limited to production machines? For me,
> prototypes actually seem to hold more interest - it's fascinating to
> see how a prototype evolved into a final product (or how bits of it
> were re-used in other products), or to see from the various hardware
> hacks which bits the designers were having trouble making work.
Is that just prototypes that made it out of the door in some form
or other or any prototypes at all, including cancelled projects?
I should have stuck my hand up to claim a prototype wire-wrapped
DHV11 a few (hmm, quite a few!) years ago now. I have various
boards that were various projects that went nowehere. I have even
more documents for project that never got as far as hardware!
My VS4000-90 has green wires on it and is an early proto (although
only just pre-production ... it does work very well!). My DECnis 500
may have some prototype boards in it (or available for it).
But anything after that era that I've been involved in is somewhat
less "interesting" as a prototype. I don't have any of the Riverstone
SRP cards, but the first pass cards had all the bits on them (although
not all necessarily glued on the right way by the factory!). The next
pass fixed the issues and worked (IIRC). The rest of the work was just
fixing the (soft) logic and the software. So if you have an early proto,
it's basically cube art and if you have a later proto, it's essentially
a production item (except maybe for the metalwork).
Perhaps protos that don't quite make it out of the door ("the market has
moved on, this'll never sell") are more interesting.
To "map" the development process of anything I've worked on since about
2000 or so, you'd need an electronic paper trail plus emails. The
hardware just isn't breadboarded in the same way any more.
It does become obsolete much more quickly though! Which means you can
more easily acquire kit which (a) was way beyond your pocket but is now
free (or almost so) and (b) might actually be useful to you now rather
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