out-of-mainstream minis

Mike Ross tmfdmike at gmail.com
Thu Jul 2 16:39:36 CDT 2015

There are interesting and obscure machines from the most mainstream

Take the IBM System/7. Successor to the 1800, succeeded by the
Series/1. They were *ubiquitous* - one in every telephone exchange in
the USA, I've heard. They even made a special ruggedised version for
shipboard use. Yet they're functionally *extinct*. Henk Stegeman in
the Netherlands has most of one, but is missing a crucial board (ALU
IIRC). I had a front panel, which I donated to Henk, and an OS disk. I
retain one of the special IBM-branded ASR33 Teletypes that were
sometimes used with them, plus a couple of manuals and sales
brochures, And that's *it*. Unless anyone knows different, no complete
systems exist.  They're extinct, and that's a scandal and a shame.


On Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 5:56 PM, Brent Hilpert <hilpert at cs.ubc.ca> wrote:
> 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:
>         http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-VARIAN-DATA-MACHINES-620-L-100-COMPUTER-/220737926675?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3365017613


'No greater love hath a man than he lay down his life for his brother.
Not for millions, not for glory, not for fame.
For one person, in the dark, where no one will ever know or see.'

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