Front Panel Update

William Donzelli wdonzelli at
Tue Jun 9 18:07:31 CDT 2015

Varian bought the design of the 620. I forget the name of the original
firm, but I have a brochure on it.

Weird things happen. CDC rebadged small VAX machines and Nova 3s, for
example, even with their minicomputer line intact.


On Tue, Jun 9, 2015 at 6:45 PM, Paul Koning <paulkoning at> wrote:
>> On Jun 9, 2015, at 5:58 PM, tony duell <ard at> wrote:
>>> WTF? Varian was a competitor of DEC. They made minis themselves. Sounds
>>> extremely strange that one would take a DEC mini, and put a Varian badge
>>> on it. Did someone try to make a joke?
>> I will always think of Varian as a maker of (very high quality) vacuum equipment.
>> I am sure this was not a joke. It wasn't just the name, the switch handles were all green, the silkscreening
>> was different, etc. It was a normal PDP8/e inside, though. It was part of a piece of lab equipment (I forget
>> what) and I had to do a minor repair on the PDP8/e side (this was over 20 years ago...). I was pleased to
>> see that apart from a custom interface board, the rest of it was standard DEC boards, so the printsets I
>> had applied.
> Interesting.  Varian is a microwave equipment company; I have one of their TWTs sitting on my H960 at home.  Vacuum equipment, I could believe that.  But yes, Varian made a 16 bit minicomputer; I had a handbook for it at one time (now lost, I suspect).  And if memory serves, the reason is that there was one in the Computer Science department at the University of Illinois where I studied.  I remember nothing about the architecture, other than the fact it supported user microprogramming.
> Possibly the OEM PDP8 predates that device.  Or possibly it wasn’t enough of a competitor for DEC to stop doing OEM business with Varian.
>         paul

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