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Digital Equipment Corporation - MicroFiche Underground

RSX11M+

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Feb 14, 2011
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I'm starting this thread in an attempt to bring to the community, access to DEC's documentation, published on MicroFiche.

SUMMARY:

This Underground is being started in the hopes that it will become a collecting point for others out there, like myself, who have original issues of DEC Microfiche sets.

These sets contain incomparable engineering and service details on DEC products. Much of it, unavailable in any other venue, and in danger of being LOST forever.​

INTENT:

We are banding together, to transcribe to modern media and methods, the entire scope of knowledge contained in the various DEC MicroFiche sets.​

To accomplish this, we will do the following:
  • Register the fact of our possesion of Dec Microfiche sets with the Underground
  • Exchange Details of the contents or existence of various sets [whether or not we have them]
  • Obtain assistance [donations of equipment, software and funds] to accomplish the transcription
  • Support the output by distributing and hosting it on the internet
  • Accept requests for documents in the fiche library - to prioritize the transcription process.

APPEAL:
Please - If you are aware of any of these sets, let us know. If you possess one, consider donating or lending it to the Underground for the purposes of keeping it from being lost.​

This will be a non-profit endeavor, for the posterity of the computing industry and mankind in general. Let there be no more "Ancient Libraries at Alexandria" - Lost.

P.S. - Feel free to PM me, if you have privacy concerns with your information or contribution.
 
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RSX11M+

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I will begin by submitting that I have the following:

Blue painted steel lock-box container appx 4"x6"x10" Labeled:

MDS MAINTENANCE DOCUMENTATION SERVICE
ID No. QBUS - 000371
digital

Includes the Booklet:
EK-OOMDS-UG-003​
Title: Using Your DIGITAL Microfiche Library

The set appears unused, and complete. A quick scan shows XXDP sheets, Hardware Tech Manuals, User guides IPBs -etc.
The index card is dated 1989.

I need the donation or use of a high quality Microfiche reader, Microfiche Scanner, and software to take images of the documents and output them in PDF form.

The documents contain various Diagrams mixed with TEXT, Source code and Images that will require the ability to perform OCR and editing of the documents to create useful searchable PDFs.

Any form of assistance will be appreciated.

I am aware that there are similar sets for UNIBUS and PDP-10 systems / products.
 
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Lou - N2MIY

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Albuquerque NM / Potomac MD
I have this set:
Plastic fiche box appx 4"x6"x10" Labeled:

PC Microfiche Kit
ID No. MD-PCKIT
digital, Serial #0125

The set covers PC100 (Rainbow), PC278 (Decmate II), and PC3XX (Pro) Hardware Tech Manuals, User guides IPBs, and same such for contemporary perhiperals (VR201, LK201, printers)
The index card is dated March 1986.
 

RSX11M+

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Microfiche Reader Donated

Microfiche Reader Donated

The Undergound is now in possession of a Microfiche Reader.

It's not a "Scanner", so pages have to be transcribed photographically, but it's a start and allows us access to the content. I suppose the first pages that need to be put online are the indexes.

Here's a sample of a Rainbow 100 Tech Manual page 4-7. Clarity is even better than the attachment, which has been resized by posting here.

Once we're a little practiced at it, images should be even better quality and PDFs will probably be OCRd.
 

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RSX11M+

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Vax/vms v4.0 src lst mcrf

Vax/vms v4.0 src lst mcrf

I'm posting this for one of our members, who contacted me about the existence of this set in his collection.

I'm taking the liberty of doing this anonymously for him. I will update the post with his identity if he would like me to do so at any point. Until then, only the facts:

Anonymous said:
Envelope Reads:
AH-BT13A-BE
VAX/VMS V4.0 SRC LST MCRF
cc 1984 Digital Equipment Corporation
[hand written received 1-4-85]

There are 439 individual microfiche in the set. Each fiche has something like 208 page images on it in a array of 12 x 16 pages. Each fiche physically measures 4" x 5.75"
I believe this is a Collection of Source Code Listings for VMS v4.0. If this conjecture is correct, it would have been provided under license to institutions like Universities and significant DEC partner OEMs to fulfill the contractual obligation to disclose source materials, often present in major purchase situations.

For Example:
University of Queensland Computer Museum of I.T. [now defunct] had in their collection of documents, the "KL10 Tender response" which outlined the conditions of sale for that system. In it, DEC acknowledged that the University had license for all source materials and hardware documentation for any system or software provided by DEC. In addition, the University had access to DEC maintenance training and materials, only offered to DEC service personnel.
Eventually, this library would have included sources for RT, RSX, DOS-10, TOPS-10, and VMS in addition to all Hardware Maintenance Documents and Materials. This latter, is more common for our members to possess.

Indeed, the UQ Computer Museum WebSite had complete documentation for RSX and RT, along with many of the hardware documents for PDP-8, PDP-10 and PDP-11 systems available for download.
Thanks to this member for taking the time to recover and secure these, and for contacting us here at the Underground.

He indicates he doesn't have equipment to access them. An increasing number of our members are interested in participating in this capability once we have it.
 

sejrane

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Sep 2, 2011
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1
I have four boxes of DEC microfiche, which includes wiring diagrams, hardware manuals, etc. and an Informant II microfiche reader which I am about to dispose of. If interested or need more info, let me know.
 

RSX11M+

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I have four boxes of DEC microfiche, which includes wiring diagrams, hardware manuals, etc. and an Informant II microfiche reader which I am about to dispose of. If interested or need more info, let me know.

Still hoping to hear back from you.
 

RSX11M+

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SejRane, I'm trying to find you. I'm guessing you may be related to www.sejrane.com somehow, a one time "[FONT=ARIAL,MS SANS SERIF,UNIVERS]Repair, maintenance, and consulting on all DEC PDP computer systems" company.

I have been unable to reach you via PMs here, and am thinking there may be something amiss with your email notifications settings.

If any site admin has access, please try to contact him via his registration email or contact info, to let him know of these attempts to respond to his post.

I would hate to see these documents end up being discarded.

Thank You
[/FONT]
 

RSX11M+

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SejRane, I responded to your PM of Sunday September 4th, but there is no indication you've been back to see it.

Please check your private messages and let me know you've received it. Thank You once again for taking the time to find these a home.
 

RSX11M+

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Once again I would request a site admin to please contact Sejrane via his registration email address and let him know there is a PM waiting.

I can find no other means of connecting. :sad3:
 

RSX11M+

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Thank You SejRane

Thank You SejRane

I just sent this PM, and thought the community should be aware.

SejRane,

This afternoon I received your shipment. One carton containing four boxes of Microfiche totaling to a stack equaling some 30 inches.

This is a most generous gift, and we thank you profusely.

We will see to it that this legacy is preserved.


Most Sincerely,


DEC MicroFiche Underground

It will take me some time to catalog this collection, but in a quick scan I see it includes UNIBUS, QBUS, VAX, PDP-11, PDP-8, and PDP-12 elements. Diagnostics, Wirelists, IPBs, Manuals, Module Assemblies, and more.
 

RSX11M+

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Just a post to show some of our progress.

One of our members recently requested a copy of a TA11 [TU60] bootstrap from our Fiche set.

The following is what we were able to accomplish:


Although we still take too much time to prepare an image of a Fiche document page, we are getting more familiar with what it takes to produce legible output. We are hopeful to begin making complete Fiche Images available online in the coming months.

MD-11-DZTAF-C%20BOOTSTRAP.2.b.gs.png


MD-11-DZTAF-C%20BOOTSTRAP.2.b.gs.tif
 

Twylo

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Feb 12, 2009
Messages
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Location
Poulsbo, WA
WOW!

This is an absolutely fantastic project.

I know this is an old thread, but I wanted to give my big thumbs-up and kudos. I hope you're still active with it. If you need any kind of monetary donations for equipment or anything, please let me know. I can't contribute very much, but this is something worthy of supporting.

-Twylo
 

RSX11M+

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Status, Directions and needs...

Status, Directions and needs...

Thank you for your kind words.

At this time, we are running the effort "on a shoestring" in order to be responsible with donations and resources.

Commercial equipment, in the form of MicroFilm / Fiche Reader - Printer - Scanners are available, but run $2000 ~ $8000 even on the used market. After analysis, it's clear they don't solve enough of the "whole problem" to justify the expenditure (yet). So we've been exchanging ideas with others who've also identified this need, and are in the process of constructing home-made instrumentation.

The following tasks have been identified:

1) Collect Fiches - too often rescued from the trash
2) Clean and recondition Fiches
3) Storage
4) Catalog and publicly list items in the collection
5) Scan and process Fiches into PDF format and offer the final result via the internet
6) Find a "Permanent Repository" for not only the collection, equipment and Fiches, but the output data.

There's a small book to be written on each of these tasks. Just listing them, prompts the imagination to realize how much is required to really preserve and keep these available, permanently.

My particular hope is that a method of scanning "Whole Fiches" into single, very high resolution images will be the key to the most efficient use and distribution of Fiches. To do this, a "large format Scan Camera", made by modifying a desktop scanner, is being considered.

If this is effective, we'll procure or write software to reduce these to PDF more or less automatically with a minimum of human guidance. (more with OCR) Then the software and Whole Fiche Images (WFIs) will be openly distributed to anyone wanting to contribute their time and effort (via the internet).

With so many Fiches here, and "out there"... getting "parallel participation" in a mass forum like the internet is the only practical way to get it all done in my lifetime. (and beyond)

A member is also experimenting by constructing a prototype "Precision Step and Repeat" platform for a reader in an attempt to make another imaging direction possible. This work continues at this time. If successful it will amplify our efforts, but still leaves the other tasks to be accomplished.

So much for the "Status"...

Donations - I would be happy to discuss contributions of any kind, with anyone who would care to PM me. Potential benefactors will be appreciated and considered individually, each with their own requirements and concerns. Some have donated only their time, others information, and still others more - as you can see from this thread.


Another Appeal for Materials:

Despite recent acquisitions - many, many, fiches are still missing from the collection. For example, I had really hoped PDP-10 and PDP-8 materials would be more represented among the donations. This continues to be my hope.


If you know of, or possess Fiches - please tell someone and leave instructions on what to do with them should something happen to you. We continually hear of materials that have been discarded during probate and estate processing. Even with clear written instructions, this could happen to your collection too. Families are frequently overwhelmed at these times, and "things happen". Please make it a priority to pre-establish and ensure your wishes are carried out - or just do it yourself.


Once again, thanks to the community. While the effort doesn't progress without monetary and material needs met, "moral support" is essential. We have to be in this for the "long haul" and keeping the topic in the public consciousness continues to make things possible as well as motivate us.
 

jackrubin

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Mar 12, 2004
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Chicago, IL and Buchanan, MI
I just rescued a couple of car loads of DECUS publications and DEC docs. The material included a 20" fiche tray as well. I'm slowly going through them to manually separate the individual fiches but so far only one or two have been damaged. The set is identified as 'MDS ID# GT-0139-0478-P11R'; it breaks out as roughly 7-3/4" of Diagnostics, 3-3/4" Hardware Manuals, 1/2" IPB (Illustrated Parts Breakout) Manuals, 3/8" PM Manuals and 4-1/4" Module Documentation. Included price lists and MDS Bulletins date the collection from 1979-1980.

I'm headed off to the public library with an envelope full of 11/35 fiches to see if I can find a reader!

Jack
 
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jackrubin

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Our library has something called an "ST ViewScan" which is a CCD optical imager that is connected to a PC for image processing. It has direct screen output and the ability to save images (I think both tiff and pdf) to a USB key. Since the output is a digital image, it allows black/white reversal, brightness/contrast adjustment, etc. Unfortunately, the resolution seems too low to read the fiches. It is tantalizingly close - I can see the illustrations and read the large font manual titles but the body text is too pixelated to read. I'll contact the manufacturer to see it they have any hints on increasing the resolution or maybe they have an alternate lens. If it can be made to work, this would seem to be a great system to work with though it really seems to be designed for microfilm (it will automatically scan and advance roll film).

Jack
 
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