OEM minis /was Re: Front Panel Update

Brent Hilpert hilpert at cs.ubc.ca
Wed Jun 10 14:17:25 CDT 2015

On 2015-Jun-09, at 4:07 PM, William Donzelli wrote:
> Varian bought the design of the 620. I forget the name of the original
> firm, but I have a brochure on it.
> Weird things happen. CDC rebadged small VAX machines and Nova 3s, for
> example, even with their minicomputer line intact.

> On Tue, Jun 9, 2015 at 6:45 PM, Paul Koning <paulkoning at comcast.net> wrote:
>>> On Jun 9, 2015, at 5:58 PM, tony duell <ard at p850ug1.demon.co.uk> wrote
>>>> WTF? Varian was a competitor of DEC. They made minis themselves. Sounds
>>>> extremely strange that one would take a DEC mini, and put a Varian badge
>>>> on it. Did someone try to make a joke?
>>> I will always think of Varian as a maker of (very high quality) vacuum equipment.
>>> I am sure this was not a joke. It wasn't just the name, the switch handles were all green, the silkscreening
>>> was different, etc. It was a normal PDP8/e inside, though. It was part of a piece of lab equipment (I forget
>>> what) and I had to do a minor repair on the PDP8/e side (this was over 20 years ago...). I was pleased to
>>> see that apart from a custom interface board, the rest of it was standard DEC boards, so the printsets I
>>> had applied.
>> Interesting.  Varian is a microwave equipment company; I have one of their TWTs sitting on my H960 at home.  Vacuum equipment, I could believe that.  But yes, Varian made a 16 bit minicomputer; I had a handbook for it at one time (now lost, I suspect).  And if memory serves, the reason is that there was one in the Computer Science department at the University of Illinois where I studied.  I remember nothing about the architecture, other than the fact it supported user microprogramming.
>> Possibly the OEM PDP8 predates that device.  Or possibly it wasn’t enough of a competitor for DEC to stop doing OEM business with Varian

Another case example, going from the brochures at CHM / bitsavers, in the early 70s Foxboro were marketing their unique FOX-1 (perhaps the coolest-looking minicomputer ever):

.. while their FOX-2 was a rebadged / OEM PDP-11/20  (see page 5 of FOX-2 pdf):

Out of curiousity: should any DEC-heads download the FOX-2 brochure, on pdf page 11, what is the unit above the 11/20 & paper tape reader? looks like it would be OEM from DEC, a disk or drum controller?.

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