out-of-mainstream minis

Brent Hilpert hilpert at cs.ubc.ca
Wed Jul 1 16:56:43 CDT 2015

On 2015-Jul-01, at 2:26 PM, Matt Patoray wrote:
> On Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 5:21 PM, Mark Linimon <linimon at lonesome.com> wrote:
>> On Tue, Jun 30, 2015 at 06:54:51PM -0700, Brent Hilpert wrote:
>>> Something I could wish to find/stumble-across would be one of the
>>> out-of-the-mainstream minis from the 60s/70s - something not DEC,
>>> not HP, not IBM, not DG (although a little Nova would be nice).
>> I had to suffer through building something on a Computer Automation
>> mini back in the, well, never you mind when it was.  (The misery was
>> not the mini's fault).  So I would take one of those if it came
>> available.
>> Still hoping for an 11/20, of course.

> Varian made interesting mini computers with a very cool front panel.
> I think RCA at one time also made smaller computers along with the
> Spectra/70 mainframe series.

It's always surprising how much variety there was in the mini market of that era.
Even when you take out what might be called the 2nd tier of manufacturers such as Microdata, Prime and so on, there was still a plethora of also-rans.

I find it an interesting era: once ICs were readily available and easy to design with (mainly TTL), everyone and their dog decided they would take a stab at building and marketing a CPU. I was a kid in that era so wasn't on the inside, but my offhand interpretation is that while some of them may have been successful in niche areas such as instrumentation, in the main they got shook out when the reality of maintaining, marketing and evolving a system architecture hit. But, that's an historical progression common to many/most new technologies -
same thing happened in the microprocessor market a few years a later.

A Varian has been sitting on ebay for sometime now .. sitting, because the price is silly:

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