Humpty Dumpty

Richard legalize at
Thu Feb 8 15:11:52 CST 2007

In article <f4eb766f0702081242s185c172akadce74d7a9d981e9 at>,
    "Ethan Dicks" <ethan.dicks at>  writes:

> On 2/8/07, Richard <legalize at> wrote:
> >  I intend to do a full online history of terminals
> > at some point; something like but just for terminals
> Nice.  I'd enjoy contributing at some point.

Great, I'll keep that in mind.  Just as I was composing a reply to the
list, I stumbled across this site which seems to have the very early
TTY style portion of this history covered: North American Data
Communications Museum <>.  I guess I
hadn't stumbled across it before because it focuses on the Teletype
and sort of leaves off where terminals begin.

> > I've not heard of Planar before, so I'd like to hear about that one.
> They are still around.  They now make VGA and DVI LCD panels, but at
> one point, they made terminals and PCs.

Ah.  I notice that doesn't have anything on their
PCs so you might consider submitting some basic information to them
for the PC portion.  (I've tried submitting information on terminals,
but they reject it as "outside their scope", although they have the
ADM-3A in their database.)

I'd heard of the LCD displays under that name, but you know how
company names tend to get recycled in our industry, you can't always
depend that its the same manufacturer.

> > I don't think Tektronix ever made a terminal that wasn't graphics
> > capable :-) and when they went to raster displays from storage scopes,
> > I believe they were all color capable.  I have a 4010, a 4014 and
> > several 4105s and 4205s.
> Hmm... 4105 or 4205 rings a bell.

They are essentially the same terminal, but the 4205 has a little more
memory and a little faster processing and a slightly smaller case
although the tubes seem to be the same size.  They are both color
raster displays.  They have an integrated pointing "puck" built into
the keyboard so that does make them a little unusual.  There is also
this DE-9 (D subminiature) style connector on the keyboard teasingly
labelled "mouse", but I've never been able to find out any information
on just what kind of mouse you can connect to it.

> That _still_ care?  Almost none.  I more meant that back in the day,
> there were lots and lots of games and business applications that were
> coded for curses or raw VT-100 escape sequences, etc., and far fewer
> that knew about graphics command sets.  The largest body of code I've
> run across that is expecting a graphics terminal is, as I said, a
> collection of programs under TOPS-20 for the GIGI.

Yeah, I get the impression that the kinds of programs written for
these terminals died with the minicomputers and mainframes that ran
them.  Just think of the hard time Al Kossow has finding old software
for vintage machines and multiply the level of difficulty by 10 or
even 100 because for as many people as there were with minis and
mainframes, it seems that only a small fraction of them did anything
with graphics.  Nowadays everything has "graphics", but back then it
was a significant sum on top of the already significant sum for the
computing hardware that you really had to be able to justify the
expense.  Things like CAD could justify it, but they would be running
custom software (now CAD is a commodity, but before the PC I got the
impression that each engineering house developed their own CAD system
inhouse).  The companies that created their own CAD software aren't
likely to let their old machines slip out the door with the software
still loaded, although I'm sure it happened on occasion.

> >From what I remember, graphical workstation prices started falling in
> the late 1980s at the same time color graphics terminals were becoming
> more common.

Yeah, the market window for high-end 3D terminals was a small one, I
think.  That's what makes them interesting to collect from my
perspective :-).  I am still amazed that I managed to get the color
Megatek terminal.
"The Direct3D Graphics Pipeline" -- DirectX 9 draft available for download

        Legalize Adulthood! <>

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