Terminal junkie finds Lynwood Alpha

From: Paul Williams <celigne_at_tinyworld.co.uk>
Date: Sat Jan 19 11:25:58 2002

I've mentioned my obsession with terminals before and today I had a real
find. I was doing my regular trawl of the skips at work and found a
Lynwood Alpha, which I've not seen for nearly 15 years.

I worked for a year at the UK Atomic Energy Authority at Culham Labs,
Oxon, and used to use a Lynwood Alpha to connect to their Prime minis.
It was only a text terminal (AFAIK), but it was most appealing to me
because you could define soft characters, right from the keyboard.

Lynwood Scientific Developments Ltd. used to make TEMPEST-compliant
equipment for government agencies, but at the time I didn't have a clue
whether these terminals were shielded and had fibre-optic comms outputs
or were ordinary terminals. All I knew was that the screen was very
heavy. Since then, I've never seen one or found any information about
them, so I didn't even know whether the Alpha was completely Lynwood's
product or a shielded version of someone else's terminal. Now I know!

This terminal was used in one of our radar trials vans, presumably
bolted into a big rack, because the top of the monitor case is missing
and it had an extra fan bolted underneath the monitor, blowing up
through the three cards sitting alongside the CRT. As best as I can
tell, it dates from 1981 and is powered by a Zilog Z8001 CPU, which I've
never seen before. The Comms output is either RS232C or 20mA. No sign of

The keyboard is huge and heavy, with two long rows of function keys at
the top. Intriguingly, the top row of keys have LEDs built in, with
legends like "Format", "Italics", "Half Intensity", "Rev Video",
"Blink", "Under", "Graphics" and "RAM Ch Gen". I wonder why this was?
You'd expect the host to send codes to change the rendition of
characters, rather than having the user swap at will!

Unfortunately, it has been out in the rain for a week, so I'll have to
dry it thoroughly before attempting to fire it up. There are also two
NiCad cells on one of the boards and they have leaked, so a bit of
cleaning is in order.

It's not very interesting to look at, but I'll take some photos and
stick them on the Web site it anyone would like to see it.

- Paul

PS. Also nosed around a colleague's bookshelf and discovered a User
Manual for Data General DASHER D410 and D460 terminals, containing
programming information, so I'll scan that later.
Received on Sat Jan 19 2002 - 11:25:58 GMT

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