What's the rarest or most unusual computer-related item do you own?

Jon Elson 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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