Tektronix 4014-1 & unknown cards

Rick Bensene rickb at bensene.com
Thu Jan 29 21:23:48 CST 2009

The 4081 was a complete system, in a "desk" format.  The CPU was an
Interdata 7/16, not a 7/32.  The CPU, Memory, Graphics Processor
(supporting both display-list vector refresh graphics and DVST-style
stored graphics), and I/O interfaces were housed inside a chassis in the
desk.  The display was a high-performance DVST tube that sat on the
desktop, along with the keyboard and joystick.  
The 4081 was not integrated into a 4014-style chassis.

The unidentified board may well be an Interdata CPU as suggested.  There
were some systems that I saw that provided local intelligence within a
4014 terminal housing, but I can't recall if these were just prototypes,
or actually made it into production.  I do recall a machine similar to a
4014 that used dual 8-inch floppy drives (mounted beneath the CRT), and
ran a version of CP/M, and I know that it made it into production, but
didn't use an Interdata processor, and I can't recall what the model of
the machine was.  If I remember right, it used an 8086 processor.

Whatever it is, it's unusual.

I worked at Tektronix from '77 until '90, and saw a lot of really neat
stuff that was developed, but never turned into product.  I knew the
4081 system quite well, as I did a lot of programming (in assembly and
PASCAL) on the system.  It was a pretty neat system for its time,
provided a lot of processing as well as graphics power in a nicely
integrated system.  I recall Wangtek front-load cartridge disk drives
(two of them) in most of the systems that I worked with.  The operating
system was, IIRC, called GCOS.  There was a very powerful macro
assembler, FORTRAN, and PASCAL compilers.  GCOS had a simple filesystem
(8.3 filenames), and did offer a hierarchical directory structure.  The
text editor, if I recall correctly, was a clone of TECO.  The graphics
processor was pretty neat, it operated on a display list stored in main
memory.  You'd create graphics instructions in memory, and them point
the display processor at them, and it'd go about generating the display.
The display processor could do simple stuff like points and vectors, as
well as higher-level objects like rectangles and polygons.  The systems
I worked on were used for Tek's in-house computer-aided design tools for
stuff like circuit board layout, schematic capture, and the like.  The
vector graphics were used for dynamic objects, and static things were
drawn in storage mode. 

Rick Bensene
The Old Calculator Museum

Bill Maddox wrote:
> The unknown boards look like Interdata boards.  According to this
> website, Tek made a 4081 system which integrated an Interdata 7/32
> with a Tek display.

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