out-of-mainstream minis

Ian S. King isking at uw.edu
Fri Aug 21 05:27:50 CDT 2015

I had the privilege of visiting what Nico calls a 'museum-to-be' yesterday
evening, and it is far more than most of what I've seen!  They have a very
substantial collection of all sorts of systems, peripherals and
documentation, including a GIER from ca. 1962 that I saw (and heard) run.
As a debugging/operations aid, they had attached the overflow bit to a
speaker so it could generate 1-bit sound - one demo they gave me was a
program to calculate e that played a sound for each iteration so you could
hear the steady progress.  But of course if there is a sound output, no one
can avoid playing with it.  There were numerous pieces of computationally
generated music composed for the machine (on paper tape), but also a
program for playing a recorded, real-life sound in 1-bit audio!

The collection includes numerous other computers including pretty much the
entire RC line, as well as pre-computer tabulators, keypunches, paper
handling machine and the like.  The artifacts are well-ordered and in large
part well labeled for even the uninitiated visitor.

Everything is laid out quite thoughtfully, with wide aisles, in a large,
well-lit basement.  There are interpretive displays here and there, as well
as a small but appealing lecture/display area.

The datamuseum.dk collection represents 25 years of accumulation, I was
told.  But more importantly, I think their work demonstrates a very
well-considered approach for presenting the history of the collection's
machines to visitors.

My hosts were also warm and wonderful people who clearly love what they do
and enjoy sharing it.  They made me feel among friends, if not family.  :-)

Thanks, Finn and everyone else (sorry, I'm bad with names), for sharing
your time and your passion with me!  -- Ian

On Thu, Jul 2, 2015 at 12:43 AM, Nico de Jong <nico at farumdata.dk> wrote:

> I share your favourite(s). In the danish IT-museum-to-be (
> www.datamuseum.dk) we have two P857-based systems running. We have lots
> of spare parts and nearly all documentation, so if you need something, you
> are welcome to ask.
> I'm presently building a "table top" version of a system with the P857
> CPU, 35cm H x 60 deep x 19" wide, with a dual 8" floppy drive, and a 80486
> PC for program loading etc.
> The system is built into a P859 box. The P859 CPU is special, as it has a
> V24 connection that goes to a LED display with push buttons. Very nice
> indeed.
> For that system, I have developped a Windows based Assembler, and a
> Windows based simulator. The simulator takes assembled programs (in my
> system called *.OBJ) and the original source. You can then step through the
> instructions, and follow them through the text file on the PC.
> I am presently trying to execute various utility programs, sent to me by a
> Belgion ex-Philips employee, who did a lot of work on the P800 series.
> I myself worked with the P800 series, disguised as the PTS6800 series for
> 4-5 years full time.
> The PTS 6800 series was used extensively in banks, mainly in Scandinavia,
> Greece, Barclay SouthAfrica, Philippines. In Sweden also in the airline
> industry. In Denmark it was used mainly by local authorities, PTT, Railway
> (ticket printing), and some other small-time projects. In one of the
> project it was connected to an ATM (fun project).
> I know of one collector in the Netherlands (Camiel), and some guys who
> have no hardware but a lot of knowledge
> /Nico
>   ----- Original Message -----
>   From: tony duell
>   To: General Discussion: On-Topic and Off-Topic Posts
>   Sent: Thursday, July 02, 2015 7:31 AM
>   Subject: RE: out-of-mainstream minis
>   Not all minis came from the States :-)
>   One of my favourite non-mainstream families is the Philips P800 series.
> It's
>   a 16 bit machine with 16 registers (0 is the program counter and 15
>   is the stack pointer, rest are mostly general purpose) and separate
>   I/O instructions (not memory-mapped I/O). There were several models
>   with various implementations of the architecture, including
>   P850 (TTL, hardwired not microcoded)
>   P855, P852, P856, P857, P860 (TTL, microcoded)
>   P851 (Custom bitslice ICs, microcoded)
>   P854 (AM2900 bitslice, microcoded)
>   P853 I think (Single chip)
>   No, I don't have all of those...
>   -tony
>   =

Ian S. King, MSIS, MSCS, Ph.D. Candidate
The Information School <http://ischool.uw.edu>
Dissertation: "Why the Conversation Mattered: Constructing a Sociotechnical
Narrative Through a Design Lens

Archivist, Voices From the Rwanda Tribunal <http://tribunalvoices.org>
Value Sensitive Design Research Lab <http://vsdesign.org>

University of Washington

There is an old Vulcan saying: "Only Nixon could go to China."

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