blog

Herein a brief description of encounters with unknown vintage artifacts, discoveries or other things learned along the way.

Recent announcements

  • DEC VT52 decscope For several years I have been wanting to re-create an iconic DEC equipment scene:and to that end I recently acquired a DEC VT52 decscope terminal which can be ...
    Posted Aug 4, 2012, 8:45 PM by Nigel Williams
  • The Kiel collection - Oct 2009 An amazing collection of vintage computing material has been photographed in Germany. Soon to be part of a local museum, however some items are being sold too.http://picasaweb.google ...
    Posted Feb 6, 2012, 11:29 PM by Nigel Williams
  • Commodore Amiga 500 hard disk recovery (surprise) - 18-Oct-2009 Recently acquired a Commodore Amiga 500 that included an external A590 hard disk XT. I tried several times to boot the drive without success and although I could hear it ...
    Posted Feb 6, 2012, 11:28 PM by Nigel Williams
Showing posts 1 - 3 of 6. View more »

DEC VT52 decscope

posted Aug 4, 2012, 8:36 PM by Nigel Williams   [ updated Aug 4, 2012, 8:45 PM ]

For several years I have been wanting to re-create an iconic DEC equipment scene:


and to that end I recently acquired a DEC VT52 decscope terminal which can be seen at left in the picture above. I believe the terminal in this picture is a VT50 as it lacks the keypad, and notes tray.

This photo album shows some of the stages I went through with the terminal, from arrival, disassembly, cleaning, re-assembly, re-wiring the 20mA current loop interface, testing and adjustment




So far the terminal appears to be fully functional. At some stage in its 35+ year life it had been re-assembled incorrectly and 2 of the 4 the twist-lock-pins which hold the upper and lower shells together have broken off. I've only cleaned the outer plastic lightly, mostly with water and soft toothbrush to avoid subjecting the old plastic to too much assault, so it retains multiple decades of grime embedded in the textured finish of the plastic shell. There are residue of sticky tape and pen marks scattered around the front-face of the terminal.

The Kiel collection - Oct 2009

posted Feb 6, 2012, 11:29 PM by Nigel Williams

An amazing collection of vintage computing material has been photographed in Germany. Soon to be part of a local museum, however some items are being sold too.



Commodore Amiga 500 hard disk recovery (surprise) - 18-Oct-2009

posted Feb 6, 2012, 11:28 PM by Nigel Williams

Recently acquired a Commodore Amiga 500 that included an external A590 hard disk XT. I tried several times to boot the drive without success and although I could hear it spinning up (and other boot-time noises) it never appeared on the Workbench desktop. On the spur of the moment I decided to open the drive up and check connections and review the state of the internals. The XT drive has a old-style head actuator (see in the top right of this picture) with the rotor axle exposed and I happened to twist the axle and I could feel that the actuator was fully extended (the heads were closest to the spindle centre); I had a vague idea that this was wrong. I slowly rotated the axle back to return the heads to track 0. I closed up the case and re-attached to the Amiga, powered up and after several seconds of startup pauses and blinking lights it booted! It has now booted several times without problems.

Elliott 503 - January 2010

posted Feb 6, 2012, 11:28 PM by Nigel Williams

Eric van der Meer (The Netherlands) has completed the herculean job of scanning most of the documentation he has on the Elliott 503, nearly 1,500 pages - this will appear here or on bitsavers.org soon. We have a lead on the final volumes of documentation for this machine. Much of the software is still missing though.

www.ourdigitalheritage.org

posted Feb 6, 2012, 11:18 PM by Nigel Williams

A very welcome project to preserve Australia and New Zealand digital information heritage started by energetic folks at Flinders University a few quotes extracted from their blurb:

PRESERVING OUR DIGITAL HERITAGE

Researchers from Flinders University are on a mission to document Australia and New Zealand’s digital heritage – from amateur-made computer games of the 80s to a contemporary software program that forensically sanitises computers.

 

“Much of it is outdated and runs on obsolete systems so it’s at considerable risk of being lost unless we create sites like the AHSD where the diverse and dispersed knowledge of computer software can be pooled and shared,” she said.

  

“It’s not just early accounting or word processing packages either – in the early days of computing people often wrote their own software on weird and wonderful subjects so this project will give us insights into how the first generation of home computers was used.”

 

Dr Swalwell said she is appealing for public help to build the database.

 

“The knowledge is out there but it’s in the community, not in libraries or other record-keeping collections and the software itself is deteriorating fast – already some of it doesn’t work and we don't want this material to be lost forever.

 

“The general public and specialist fans and collectors know a lot about software and computer history, that’s why we’re asking people to pitch in and help us build a publicly accessible database of this information.”

 


IBM AS/400 9406-720 bring-up

posted Aug 13, 2011, 9:13 PM by Nigel Williams   [ updated Aug 13, 2011, 10:47 PM ]

I was lucky to score a large AS/400 in April 2011, and over the following 6 months slowly, with the help of several people, worked my way towards commissioning the system.

This is the largest system I have ever had to contemplate collecting, aside from its 350 kg weight, it uses 15A power and combines two generations of backplane into the same system.



1-6 of 6