What's the rarest or most unusual computer-related item do you own?
elson at pico-systems.com
Tue Jan 10 21:46:46 CST 2017
On 01/10/2017 04:09 PM, Andy Cloud wrote:
> Hi Everyone!
> I thought this would be an interesting question to ask around - What's the
> rarest or most unusual computer-related item do you own?
> For me, personally, I have a Altair 8800!
> Looking forward to hearing your answers
I have a Honeywell Alert. It is a 24-bit aircraft computer
that was originally designed for the X-15 project.
It was the 2nd "mass-produced" computer in the US to use
ICs. The first was the Apollo Guidance Computer.
Although the AGC started their project a year or so earlier,
the Honeywell Alert was deployed first, as it was a much
smaller project. The X-15 application was to compute energy
available (velocity plus altitude) so the pilot would arrive
back at the Edwards runway at the right height and velocity
to make a landing.
The CPU still works, as far as I have been able to test it
(without working memory). I do have a wrecked memory unit
which still has 3 unassaulted memory modules, but absolutely
no docs on that.
I have jammed constant instructions into the memory IN bus
and observed the instruction counter.
It draws 25 A at 5 V DC. It has no connectors inside, all 6
boards are connected to the backplane by flexible printed
cables. They thought the connectors would be subject to
flaky contact, but then the thing has a whole BUNCH of D-25
and D-50 connectors on the front, to connect to I/O devices,
memory and power.
I have an A/D converter that was from an air pollution study
done in 1974-1975, and was connected to a PDP-8. That ADC
now acquires environmental data in my house. Not sure how
long it will keep on running.
I had a large disc drive from a non-computer accounting
machine, called a Mohawk Data Sciences Mem-O-Ree. The disc
is about 4 feet diameter, and ran at 1200 RPM. The unit I
had had 64 fixed head tracks on it, I think it could go up
to 256 tracks. The disc was attached to a thing that looked
like a desk calculator. Maybe there was a bigger logic box
somewhere that supported it. I saw the desktop part in a
surplus store, but never saw the whole system.
I think those are the more unusual bits in my collection.
I built a 32-bit bit slice CPU in about 1982, but eventually
put it aside, as the amount of work to bring it to a full
computer system was going to be enormous. I/O devices,
microcode, OS, compilers, and on and on.
If I'd known at the time that Unix 360 existed, that might
have changed my plans.
Then, I cloned a system that used the National Semi 32016
chip, and used that for a while. Yes, I was in the world of
32/16 bit computing, but it was GLACIALLY slow. But, it did
get me to learn my way around Unix.
Then, I managed to get a MicroVAX-II system, and ran that
for 21 years, from 1986 to 2007. I did eventually move away
from the VAX but kept it running for the home environment
monitoring. In 2007 I moved that last app to a PC running
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