UTek (V) filesystems and boot blocks (with some OT Tek rambliings)

From: Rick Bensene <rickb_at_bensene.com>
Date: Fri Jan 21 14:00:35 2005

I'm not as sure about UTekV, but the earlier Utek versions did use a pure
filesystem structure. I recall the big fuss over converting Utek away from
a BSD base
to a SystemV base, and thus, I'm wondering if the XD88 and other machines
ran UtekV may actually have a more standardized SystemV layout.

As for the boot block and partition tables -- you've got me there -- I'm
sure that they are totally unique to Tektronix, not matching anything by
or other. I seem to recall that the first logical cylinder of the drive is
to the partition table and boot blocks, but that is a *very* old memory, and
to wetware bitrot. Of couse, that also is only for the older BSD-based Utek.

Once I get through this house building stuff, I've got to dig out the old
Tek 6130, 4132
and 4319 and fire them up, at least to grab disk images. Hope they'll still
I had a lot of fun in the old days at Tektronix. I built a 6130 from parts
through Tek's Engineering Stockroom, at cost+10%, allowing me to put
together a nice
little Unix system at a time when everyone else was running CP/M and Apple &
Atari floppy-based
Disk Operating Systems.

The 6130 was a desktop form-factor Utek workstation with 32016 CPU, ST-506
disk interface
(usually with a Micropolis 20 or 40MB hard disk), 5 1/4" floppy drive,
1MB of RAM standard with expansion boards that could push it up to a
whopping 5MB,
two serial ports, a GPIB port, an AUI Ethernet port, and add-on
boards that offered Dual RS232, Dual Parallel (Centronics), add-on RAM,

Later, I got a 4132, which was essentially a redesign of the 6130 that
eliminated the
ST-506 interface, replacing it with a built-in SCSI interface, and replacing
the floppy
drive with a QIC-24 cartridge tape drive.

Then, even later, I got a 4319, which was the "2nd generation" Unix
machine from Tek. They abandoned the National 32xxx architecture and went
with a Motorola
68K (68020, I believe), ported Utek (and made some enhancements, mostly in
the network
stack, which really was bad un the 320xx-based Utek), and added a built-in
framebuffer and

The XD88 was the end of the line for Tek in the computer workstation biz.
Used the Motorola 88K,
and really had some great innovations, especially in the graphics engine,
which (for the time)
was quite amazing. A great machine for doing CAD, visualization, and the
Never did manage to get my hands on one of those machines.

Tektronix was really fickle when it came to computers. I can tell the
story of
the Tektronix "Magnolia", which was an amazing machine that long predated
320xx-based 620x and 613x machines. Magnolia was never made into a product,
but it was could
have been if Tek would have understood the market. The machine was based
on the Motorola 68000. It was a standalone machine, with the hard disk
(an 8" Micropolis fixed drive, 40MB, I believe, with a parallel,
interface), in the base of a pedestal, CPU and raster graphics engine in the
pedestal, with an integrated keyboard and a simplistic three button mouse,
with the monochrome monitor sitting on top. It was a noisy machine as there
were a lot
of fans to cool everything, and the disk drive was really noisy.
The biggest problem they had with them was that people sitting at the
machine tended
to move their feet, kicking the pedestal...right where the hard disk drive
which tended to cause disk crashes. I recall that the machine ran a V7 UNIX
with a windowed GUI, which I seem to recall being somewhat derivative of the
Xerox PARC window environments. I recall that some folks in the development
team had
come from PARC. The primary development language on the machines was
SmallTalk. The machines were truly way ahead of their time. This was all
in the late '70's
timeframe, before Sun even existed, and predating Xerox PARC's producized
machines (though
PARC did have numerous different machines running in their labs).

If Tek had seized this opportunity, and implemented the marketing, sales &
support well,
they could have gotten a great start in what became the boom of the computer
workstation market.
Needless to say, the Magnolia never made it to market. I wonder what
happened to all of the
pre-production machines that I used to see in use all the time in Building
50 at the Tek
main campus. This is a very historical machine, even though it didn't make
it to market,
and hopefully, someone out there has one or more squirrelled away somewhere,
and someday
it'll come to light.

Sorry for the rambling...the days I was at Tektronix were really memorable,
and when
people start talking about old Tek stuff, I can't help it!

Rick Bensene
The Old Calculator Web Museum

Received on Fri Jan 21 2005 - 14:00:35 GMT

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