New find, Edax PDP 11/23 system available.

Ethan Dicks ethan.dicks at gmail.com
Sat Jan 6 03:33:31 CST 2007


On 1/6/07, Tore Sinding Bekkedal <toresbe at ifi.uio.no> wrote:
> On Fri, 2007-01-05 at 22:02 -0500, Ethan Dicks wrote:
> > That's an interesting way to do it.  I'm curious how _dumb_ the
> > emulated terminal is (VT52/VT100, totally dumb glass TTY, etc.)
> > Portrait displays are quite unusual in vintage gear, and I'm curious
> > to learn about any examples.
>
> Have you heard of the Facit "Twist"?

Nope.

> Facit was, I believe, a Swedish company, made calculators, paper tape
> punches... some other miscellany, and this excellent terminal.

I've heard of the company, but don't know the range of their products.
 I think I associate the name with paper tape punches mostly.

> The terminal when seen from the side was shaped like an L, with the CRT
> tube itself standing (in a plastic casing, of course) on the vertical
> part of it. You could grab the CRT and twist it 90 degrees. The terminal
> would send an escape code to the system, and the system would redraw the
> screen with the altered aspect ratio.

Nice.  More than just aspect ratio - somehow, hardware or software, it
would have to change how it renders its bits.  I don't _think_ you can
arbitrarily exchange horizontal and vertical deflectors on a CRT, but
you could run a matrix transform on the bitmap in memory and change
all the drawing routines to swap axes without too much trouble, I'd
expect.

> On Tuesday I'm going to a museum which has one of these...somewhere... -
> I can try to get a picture of it, if you like.

Please do.

> A friend of mine who spent time around the "Studio 54" (Named after the
> serial number of the NORD-10 they had been given) computer science
> student group at the University, walked in and saw two fellow students
> hacking away using a brand new Facit Twist donated to them by Norsk
> Data.
>
> "Oh, neat, a Twist!", he exclaimed, and immediately walked over and
> rotated the CRT. Unfortunately, they were in the kernel debugger, a
> decidedly non-screen-oriented program - the terminal sent its escape
> code, and (IIRC) the machine immediately crashed.

Oops!

The closest thing I had to that experience was working where they had
some public machines set up for classes and casual non-work-related
surfing.  Most, if not all, of the machines had an HP LCD with a pivot
feature.  You turned the screen to portrait mode, and used the Windows
screen preferences to tell the system what the orientation of the
screen was (no slick little sensor like the "twist", unfortunately).
I spotted the "rotate me" sticker on the LCD, did the dance and told
the machine that it was in portrait orientation.  I left in a bit of a
hurry and didn't put it back to landscape mode before I left - someone
came and tracked me down because nobody could figure out how to "fix
it".  :-/

I guess "modern" machines don't care which edge is up, but besides the
twist, I don't know of any classic machine that can be used both ways.
 I know of the AT&T terminal with a portrait view CRT, and plenty of
arcade machines have the CRT on its "side" (Gorf, PacMan, Tempest...),
but once you get through the rather short list of oddball machines,
you are left with a *huge* pile of landscape-oriented systems that
scan from left to right fast, and top to bottom less fast.  My mother
had a "full page display" (portrait orientation) for her Mac SE, but
due to driver/firmware version mismatches, I never got it working.  I
think it's somewhere in a closet waiting for me to dig it out.

Love to see those pictures.

Thanks,

-ethan



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