Modern Apps on Old Machines

From: Allison J Parent <>
Date: Sat Jun 28 09:42:48 1997

> lynx is nice, as I use it for fast FTP, but when I read about a PDP11, it
> nice to see a picture of one, rather just text.

Most people were running altairs and the like in 78... I was a friend
started with one in '76. But in 78 he decided a H-11 bas a better deal.
H-11 was a DEC LSI-11 cpu card with heathkit made boards around them that
were DEC look alikes and a OS that was RT-11 look alike. All of a sudden
minies weren't too big or out of range.

> everyone forgets is that having limited memory is a pain,
> and TCP/IP alone uses 64K in ONE SOCKET ALONE as a buffer.

That was true even of most PDP-11s. What the -11 (most minies) had
were more efficient IO even if it was floppies.

> You have a good point there, and it would work sorta, but patience runs th
> after awhile, as decoding images at 1 MHZ does take 1 min, times that wit
> 10 or so inlines you will find at every web page, and waiting 10 mins for

This is a problem for me with the 486dx/50 and 33.6 modem. Most fo the
images unless compressed really do not require much processing (GIFs).

> its not about apps, its about efficincy, and operator comfort. VGA or SVG
> is worth it becuse it prevents eyestrain, and you can use your system for
> longer amounts of time. I used color TV's before when I got started, and
> serious word processing was painful to the eyes. RGB's are better, but no

I've been using h-19s, vt100s for years to get past the TV displays that
generally are low res.

> by much. also its about speed. The ability to cut and paste is underrated
> as in serious work, it saves gobs of time. I love command line interfaces

I could cut and past using editors for cp/m back in '80. Cut and past is an
editing feature not a system capability. PCs running windows make it latent
on the screen all of the time, thats the difference.

When some one said a home machine in say...'80 it was appleII, trs80, S100
or SS50(6800/6809). At that time people that had PDP-8s, -11s, DG novas
were scarce. By '86 most of the minies were old and getting accessable
cheap and not all were large either!. Move to 1990, people are collecting
vaxes (the 780 was new in '78) as most of the 7xx series systems were going
to junk. the 730s/750s though slow were small enough to consider for a
home. What's forgotten is by 1990 a lot of stuff was over 5-10 years old.
Now in 1997, microvaxes (ca 1986-7) are for dumpster diving and these little
gems are not slow nor are they under powered and they had VGA or better
capabilities and they are collectable.

Now what you said is true of many systems. I'd never try to run a modem
program on my TI99 at faster than 1200 as it will not keep up. Then again
it was by the standards of the time very very slow! It was neat. My systems
for the late '70s were s100 for flexibility and speed. I found myself
looking at canned systems like TRS80, apple and felt most fo the time like I
was running a fuel dragster compared to that. But I was running networks
and the like in '81 because I knew of them and could design my own to save a
buck (they existed for home computers but were expensive). I got my first
PDP-11 in '83 for FREE because the lsi-11 boards and memory were old! It
was my first save! The -11 introduced me to small minies, and big
performance. Some required a scope and series debugging to get them going
but the cost offset that (free). It would be years (1991) before PCs would
eclipse the power of the various PDP-11s (many of the 11/23 design) and the
software maturity behind it.

Many computer consumers knew they wanted performance. It was minies
where more could be found. I'd point out that many of the minies were
disguised. Alpha Microsystems(ca 1977) had the same chip set as the LSI-11
with a slightly different instruction set modification and was s100, still
the same capability. There was the Western Digital Pascal Microengine,
Marinechip (PDP-11 in s100), pdt-11/150, Pro350 to name a few that were
either pre-pc or on the PC introduction cusp.While home computing was
commodores and apples and trs80 they were the appliance machines for many.
There was always a core of those that felt they were nice and had good
ideas but, they wanted more.

Received on Sat Jun 28 1997 - 09:42:48 BST

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