One from the 'believe it or not' file...

From: Scott Ware <>
Date: Sun Nov 16 22:42:05 1997

At 08:40 AM 11/16/97 -0800, James Willing wrote:

(AT&T 3B1 found...)

>However, about 3-4 minutes and 4-5 lines of little boxes later, it starts
>to dawn on me that it should not be taking quite this long to get a prompt
>of some kind. So, I move the keyboard to have a look at the floppy drive
>(it hides behind the keyboard you see) and sure enough the machine is
>looking for a floppy.

Is the hard disk spinning up? I purchased two "new" (in the box with
shrink-wrapped software) UNIX PCs about a year ago. One of the internal
hard disks (a Micropolis 20 MB 1/2 height ST-506 interface MFM unit) did
not spin up, presumably due to stiction or a relative thereof. The
computer with this disk exhibited the behavior that you describe. The
other machine started up a "Welcome to the UNIX PC" application that
prompted me to insert the first disk of the installation media. On the
systems that I have (1 MB RAM, 20 MB HD 7300s), the system software was not
preinstalled, presumably to allow the version of the OS that was shipped
with the machines to be changed easily.

If you have opened the media, try booting the machine with the diagnostic
disk. If this works, the hard disk is likely to be the culprit. As Ward
Griffiths mentioned, the 3B1 uses ST-506 interface MFM disks, but it can
only access 67 MB without hardware modifications. There are utilities on
the diagnostic disk that you can use to test, format, partition, and make
filesystems on the hard disk. If you can't get the hard disk working with
these utilities, replacing it isn't too difficult. The ST-251-1 in my UNIX
PC isn't original, but neither are the GNU utilities, csh, and Perl that I
have installed on it.

If you're fortunate enough to have the (somewhat rare) Ethernet card or the
(somewhat more rare) TCP/IP software for it, be sure to check out the 3B1
FAQ before putting it on a network. There are some major security holes,
especially in the windowing environment. Brian Stuart has a lot of good
information (and the comp.sys.3b1 FAQ) on the Web at .

>I find myself wondering... Back around 1985 when this thing was released
>(and about $10k+), who could have afforded to buy one of these things, open
>the manuals, decide that they were in over their heads, and just put it on
>the shelf without even loading the software??? EEK!

I purchased mine from a guy in Chicago who had a warehouse full of them,
new in the box. I doubt that many individuals buy computers and put them
away without using them (except for collectors), but many businesses like
to have spares on hand. Additionally, a lot of new "obsolete" machines get
written off and sold as scrap. I don't know, but I suspect that this was
the story of my machines.

If you would like to try the diagnostics without opening the software, let
me know, and I'll get you a copy of the diagnostics disk (from release 3.51).

Scott Ware                 
Received on Sun Nov 16 1997 - 22:42:05 GMT

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