KL-10B in DEC-20 [was RE: Who's rewired their house for this hobby?]

Eric Smith spacewar at gmail.com
Fri Nov 28 14:37:07 CST 2014

On Fri, Nov 28, 2014 at 1:14 PM, Rich Alderson
<RichA at livingcomputermuseum.org> wrote:
>> Similarly all KL10s have cache memory except the DECSYSTEM-2040. Cache
>> modules could be added to the -2040 turning it into a -2050.
> Funny story, told me by my former manager at Stanford, who had previously
> worked as a consultant for CitiCorp (CitiBank???) in NYC.
> They were running a 2040 to provide some timesharing services.  They
> decided to upgrade to a 2050, and talked about it to in the presence of
> an operator who like to show off for customers how with it he was by
> handing out gossip from the systems folks.
> They announced a weekend down time for the upgrade, along with a revised
> pricing schedule for services (the more capable 2050 allowing them to
> charge more).  A customer asked, on a public bulletin board, what was the
> difference between the current 2040 and the coming 2050.
> The operator knew the difference from overhearing things around the data
> center.  His answer?
> "Cash."

Great story!

I've heard from a former field service engineer that some 2040 sites
managed to buy cache modules as service spares, which was much less
expensive than the official 2050 upgrade, and install them "when no
one was looking". They had to either remove them before field service
showed up, or have a field service engineer willing to look the other

The other schenanigan he told me about was an educational institution
that had multiple of the same model of PDP-11 systems. They kept only
one of them on a service contract, and would have students do
board-level fault isolation and swap all the failed modules into a
single machine. They'd sometimes wait until that machine had quite a
few faulty modules before calling for service, which made it extremely
difficult for FS to fix it until they realized what was going on. FS
responded by marking the CPU serial number on all the modules in that
machine, so on future calls if the numbers didn't match, they wouldn't
touch it. The client was told that if they wanted to do their own
service they should not renew the service contract, and should just
buy service spares themselves. (Apparently PDP-11 service spares were
quite a bit easier to purchase than LCG spares.)

My friend quit DEC when the position was changed from field service
engineer to field service technician at some point in the early 1980s.
Apparently at that point they only wanted trained monkeys that would
follow a service flowchart, and not use their brains, and only wanted
to pay commensurately. That was reportedly yet another factor in some
PDP-10 customers seeking a different computer vendor rather than going
with the official migration path to VAX.

More information about the cctech mailing list