Vintage hardware in Los Alamos NM

From: Tom Jennings <>
Date: Thu Sep 2 18:47:13 2004

Whew! I'm in Santa Fe typing this at a wifi hotspot, and now that Ive
retrieved my Objects, after protracted years of wangling, I feel safe to
post more about the vintage gear at Los Alamos Sales Co (aka "the black
hole") in Los Alamos NM.

I'll post photos, black hole info, etc when I get home next week, but
here's a quick rundown:

It's not a vintage computer place; it's LANL/LASL surplus. Some of it
dates back to the 1950's, but most is more recent.

THere is a wad of Beige Era junk, I step over it, I'd say a cubic cubit

Bazillion IBM typewriters of all sorts, including wide-carriage types.

A CC of cards, paper tape (unused) including DEC factory fanfold.

Big stack of RCA CDP1802xxx boards mounted in custom rack mount chassis.
Full complement of RAM and monitor EPROMs. About 10. I have
documentation on the RCA board at home. SOme missing 1802's, BFD.

Random piles of some DEC modules. I cannot ID these; two plstic handles
on human end, cardedge on the buss end. 80s. RAM boards. Some
new-in-boxes (but those could of course be "return for repair" after
module swap.)

Grey Era IBM card equipment. CDC Cyber terminals.

Nukeular Data Corp (that's a joke son, a joke) ND-811 computer(s?), with
dual-floppy, and a bunch of other similar vintage junk. The ND811 (I
think it is, photos will tell) is all wirewrapped, so likely it's NFG.

CCs of HP, TI calculators. We earlier found complete sets of working
HP25's with card readers complete with bomb-crater calc software on
magstrips (utterly non-classified; it's a standard physics calc).

Lots of odd peripherals. Tape drives. Floppies. Tek stuff. Old fiber
stuff. IBM manual, schematic and listing sets back to the 360 days (some
in the church, access limited). Vacuum column drives.

(There is a secret cache of multiple CC's of paper tape gear. Access is
extremely limited to this particular room, even finding it is hard... as
me personally if you are UP THERE and SERIOUS. No peeing in the pool!)

Keep in mind this stuff is scattered ALL OVER THE PLACE on towering
shelves in a 50,000 sq ft ex-supermarket. It's out of the weather, but
it gets COLD UP THERE in the winter, so things like wirewrap are suspect
at best.

Some things are in the church (yes one of those denominational praying
peripherals) which !_at_#%% kids busted some windows, so there's a little
rain on one edge, but worse, the birds and bats nest in the Nelson
bubble lamps and SHIT all over everything, it's a terrible shame. The
church is largely off-limits, and Ed has a strange relationship to its
contents, and it is extremely hard to extract objects from it. Ask Me
How I Know... and I've been going there for 10+ years. There's also some
Wang calculators rotting up there, plus a Friden or Wang desktop
computer (!) in seemingly-operable condition (I moved key items out of
the range of rain and aerial poopers, at least.)

I can assure you you won't find an undiscovered cache of working minis
up there, but there's a LOT OF MISCELLANY.

Pricing is extremely erratic, and if you get him mad, he won't sell it
to you. Standard surplus/junkyard rules apply, plus Ed's peculiarities
(a relatively minor item I've worked on getting out of the church, for
>> 5 years, "oh no, that goes in the museum..."... he has dreams of
building a big museum to the bomb up on the hill, if an item becomes
museumized it becomes irretreivable.

Oh yeah, there's 100K CC's of extraordinary surplus and exotics, plus
office furniture, electronic parts, lab-made test gear (increasingly,
anything clearly labelled "AEC" becomes museumized), racks, machine
tools, granite tool slabs, ad nauseum. (Our kitchen is completely outfit
with putty-green lab benchware and glass-fronted, sliding-door shelving,
all ball bearing 18-gauge quality).

Please drop my name when you go -- it's no ego for me, but Ed knows me
and I told him I'd refer people up there, and you're likely to get a
better deal. Plan on spending a day there, or better yet, two days.
Seriously, I've been going there since 1994 and never get to see it all;
it grows monthly and his assistant Frank, an ex-lab nerd and artist, has
done an amazing job of organizing and extracting crap.
Received on Thu Sep 02 2004 - 18:47:13 BST

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