USING classic machines

From: Allison J Parent <>
Date: Sat Jun 28 13:40:03 1997

> Here's an interesting idea, now that mini Linux seems to be up and
> running, there appears to be a good code base for porting it over to othe
> old 8 bit and 16 bit chips. The TI-99/4a, RS COCO, PDP-11, and old S-100
> based z80 (with MMU) boxes appear to be good candidates. Yes... there is

UZI unix was on the z80 already so it's doable.

> Yes yes yes yes. SVGA is a *TOY* compared to what was available
> to those with million dollar budgets 20 years ago. The old hardware ran
> slower in clock speed but was most certainly capable of *extream* high

By 1986 1280x1024 color was about $25k and small (allowing for the 19"
monitor). MicrovaxII/gpx... now you can find them in dumpsters.

> PDP-11 hardware is still widely available. You could build
> youself a functinal Qbus LSI-11/73 or 83 for less than $500 easy. Most o
> this hardware is sitting in old factories and still in production. There
> are many hardware outlets out there such as ELI in cambridge MA, which

At $500 I'd have a killer PDP11. Most of mine are scrap/salvage or trades.
I'm letting a PDP11/23b go for very little as I have one and they are common
enough and powerful enough to run multiuser OS or one of the unixes out

> ;-) You might also want to think of a decent used microVAX.... wonderful
> machine based on the same Qbus.

I got a working vs2000 from someone elses dumpster trip so they are common
and they can do eithernet, PPP, 1280x1024 graphics (color was an option),
6-16mb of ram in a 1cuft box witha 160w powersupply (small PC!). The real
trick is getting a disk (rd54 was the largest supported at 150mb) as SCSI
is there but not bootable other than DEC tk50 tape. The other problem is an
OS though DEC has made VMS6.1 available with a free license, compared to VMS
DOS is a toy! There are people doing a netBSD for it as well.

Other boxsized vaxen are 3100 and friends most being very high performance
(2.5-3VUP, a 780=1VUP).

larger MicrovaxII configs are common and generally free to cheap and most of
the same thing apply save for bigger. Even the BA123 boxed VAXen are under
500w in practice, since most pcs are in the 230-270 watt range it's not as
bad as it would seem. Other small vaxen in the "Sbox" incluude the 3400,
3500. they are faster and still pre-1990..

The older Vax 780/1/2/5 systems are three good sized racks plus and serious
power. The later smaller (slower) 730s are one to two short (40") racks
and under 1000w for mall configs (save 1 or 2 ra80/81 disks). RA81 is 200mb
IMS. The next faster was the 750 and that can also run on household power
but, just barely.

Received on Sat Jun 28 1997 - 13:40:03 BST

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