What classic equipment was rebadged?

From: Derek Peschel <dpeschel_at_u.washington.edu>
Date: Wed Mar 10 08:40:16 1999

> > So it's more Wang's software that was stubbornly individualistic, I guess.

> That, and they certainly made their own CPU's and terminals. The 2200 OS
> was just Basic, I believe.

I was also thinking of their word-processing systems.

I spent a little bit of time trying to help Don Nichols extract some data
from Wang word-processor disk images. (He is/was an occasional
alt.folklore.computers poster, and if anyone here is interested in
accordions and concertinas you will know his name from that scene.) I
figured out a few of the data structures but I really need more information
or internal specs.

Anyway, about the system in question -- Some things are pretty
straightforward. A file is a bunch of pages (in the paper sense) stuck
together. A disk is a bunch of files stuck together. That part is pretty
sensible actually and maybe even elegant.

But there are some strange extra fields -- the system keeps track of the
number of keystrokes you type... talk about Big Brother. And there may be
some screen dumps at the beginning of the disk (that is, the title and
formatting codes for some of the on-screen displays -- such as the catalog
screen that you use to navigate a disk - are probably stored on the disk).
Yet I didn't see any obvious code to display the screens.

My theory is that the labor is divided between the ROM and the disk in a
strange way; the ROM has some basic formatting routines but the data to be
formatted comes off the disk. That would be the case for word-processing
files, of course, but perhaps the same routines are used for screens that I
would normally consider part of the OS. Don't most other proprietary
word-processing systems (e.g., the DisplayWriter) just stick the entire
program on disk?

I haven't proven any of these speculations. I don't know enough about the
machines. My impression (from doing detective work on this project, doing a
little extra reading, and briefly playing with a 700 (?) calculator) is that
Dr. Wang was a bit like Clive Sinclair in his design philosophy -- come up
with some good ideas but then rely on them to do everything, sacrificing
elegance for expedience.

But I could be wrong; the people who use Wang's large mainframe systems seem
to like them.

-- Derek
Received on Wed Mar 10 1999 - 08:40:16 GMT

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