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Sort-of Vintage (for Unix)

mpickering

Experienced Member
Joined
Sep 8, 2006
Messages
70
Location
Potomac, MD
Hi all,

I'm into collecting of vintage and older Unix boxes, specifically workstations. I do have one kind of vintage PC (Dell P90) in active service as my Internet firewall (isn't Linux grand).

What I've had:

Commodore VIC-20
Apple IIe
Atari 800XL
Bondwell 800 XT laptop (B&W CGA with 2 3.5 inch floppies)

What I have:

Timex Sinclair 1000 (my first computer ever to which I owe a lot)
Modern PCs (these don't count)
3 x SPARCstation 10MP (different multi-CPU configurations and memory, tons of hardware to build them out)
1 Sun Ultra 10 (not vintage but nifty)
2 SGI Octanes (my current pride and joy, these things are powerhouses)

What I looking for:

SGI Indy
SGI Indigo2
SGI Oynx2
SGI Iris
Apple 68K-based Macintosh (just to see Linux run on it)
Sun 3 (just because)
Symbolic LISP workstation (these things were cool)
DEC MicroVAX or equivalent (just to see if VMS was really that bad)

In my wildest dreams:

Xerox Star 8010
Cray (any Cray, but a YMP-EL92 would be nice)
PDP-8 or PDP-11

As you can see, I like big iron. For the second time in my short Unix workstation collecting career, I went looking at the right time. Right now, Octane stuff is dirt cheap and I've done well for a relatively small investment (around $300). I can still be amazed by nearly decade old technology that was used to render Toy Story.

My interest is actually using this stuff and to play with programming on different systems. The SGIs are my current focus because they are making me consider getting back into hardware programming (with a purpose in mind).

Matt
 

DoctorPepper

Experienced Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2003
Messages
479
Location
Palm Coast, FL
Hi Matt! Nice Unix collection! I was looking to build a nice collection of Unix workstations and servers, but we don't have the room for them, and there's no way I'd put a working computer in the garage here in Florida. Six months and it would be dead! I do have one Sun Ultra 5 workstation, but that's my only true Unix machine. I make do with Linux and the BSD's.

Keep up your collecting, if you and other like you don't, they will eventually end up in a land fill somewhere :-(
 

Erik

Site Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Apr 27, 2003
Messages
3,592
Location
San Jose, CA
SGI Indy
...
DEC MicroVAX or equivalent (just to see if VMS was really that bad)

D'oh!

I just gave away two Indy's with a nice SGI monitor and some software a week or two ago.

I have a VaxStation that's hopefully being picked up today.
 

DoctorPepper

Experienced Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2003
Messages
479
Location
Palm Coast, FL
D'oh!

I just gave away two Indy's with a nice SGI monitor and some software a week or two ago.

I have a VaxStation that's hopefully being picked up today.

I see you have to reduce the size of your collection too.

I've recently given away an Apple IIc, Apple IIe, Amiga 500, Amiga 1000, two monitors and several boxes of Apple and Amiga software. I lusted after these systems back in the mid to late 80's, but never was able to afford one. Once I got them, I found I didn't have the time to put in to learning them, so I gave them away to someone I knew would appreciate and use them.

I took a collection of AT&T PC-630x's from a ham friend that was moving. I think I took five or six complete systems, including monitors and software. I haven't even had the time to check them out either. They are neatly stacked behind the futon in the family room. I will probably be looking for new homes for at least some of them in the near future.

Living in Florida poses unique challenges to collecting these older systems. The weather is hot and humid for a large part of the year, and if you store the systems out in the garage, they will get a really strange fungus build-up and on them in short order, not to mention the corrosion that starts the very day you move them out there! It makes me wish I lived in a dryer place, where you can have basements. I could have a seriously nice collection then!
 

Erik

Site Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Apr 27, 2003
Messages
3,592
Location
San Jose, CA
I see you have to reduce the size of your collection too.

Sort of. I consider it more of a right-sizing than a down-sizing. I've been getting rid of duplicate systems (such as Apple //e, //c and others that I just seem to have piles of) and reducing the scope to systems I'm most interested in. The later Unix and VMS workstations just don't fit my theme and interests so I'm finding them new homes.

Hopefully I'll clear out a few more duplicate systems soon and be where I want to be.
 

sbrown

Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2004
Messages
37
What I looking for:

SGI Indy
SGI Indigo2
SGI Oynx2
SGI Iris
Apple 68K-based Macintosh (just to see Linux run on it)
Sun 3 (just because)
Symbolic LISP workstation (these things were cool)
DEC MicroVAX or equivalent (just to see if VMS was really that bad)


I've wanted some decent SGI stuff myself, but I've always found Sun stuff easier to find where I am. As for all that 68k stuff, I can tell you from experience that my Mac IIci is slow but mostly stable on Debian Linux. By the way, don't forget that the old HP9000 were m68k as well; I haven't had the chance to really dig and figure out how to get the old 9000/310 I found running yet.

Unix based stuff is interesting to me just because of the variety, and that no matter how unique the hardware I'll always have some idea of what's happening on the software end
 

dreddnott

Experienced Member
Joined
Apr 4, 2006
Messages
318
Location
Hesperia, California, USA
There are currently four SGI systems at trueCycle, but unfortunately as I no longer work there you'll have to contact somebody else about them.

Two of them were owned directly by Dreamworks, one was owned by a partner company that helped them make Small Soldiers, and another is from an unknown company.

Let's see...O2 in completely-destroyed-bare-case-held-together-with-tape condition, "FOONLY" label and "Property of Dreamworks" sticker on the front, SGI Visual Workstation Model 320 that seemingly won't boot no matter the CPU/VRM combination, fully operational SGI Indigo (as seen in Jurassic Park!), just needs a 3.6V long-life battery soldered to the motherboard, and a fully operational SGI Indy that boots right up to the graphical login prompt (2GB HDD, 96MB RAM, 24-bit XL graphics, floptical drive missing).

Not sure what they'd let them go for, I was hoping to have dibs on at least one of them, doesn't really matter which.

There are also three or four Sun systems at trueCycle, they may or may not have junked them already due to space requirements - a SPARCstation 330 (no image on monitor when you boot it up), SPARCstation 4 (or something like that, untested), and a completely operational Sun Blade 100 (somebody has dibs on it).
 

dreddnott

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Apr 4, 2006
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318
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Hesperia, California, USA
trueCycle

trueCycle

Well, I quit because they were never going to pay me more than $7.00 - a paltry sum that's only technically above California minimum wage - for applying a skill set that's worth nearly ten times more in bigger cities.

Our department had a meeting with the CEO three times in a week and that solidified my decision. He couldn't have said anything to make me stay and he sure didn't try.

The economy in the High Desert sucks!
 

Chris2005

Banned
Joined
Mar 4, 2005
Messages
572
Location
Pennsyltucky LOL LOL
In a few weeks I might be able to donate an SGI I2 (sorry, teal only). The Indy's I'm keeping (I have yet to actually install IRIX, though I gots it :) - am looking for other SGI sw though...). Shipping would be at the expense of the taker though...if interested. They're in New Jersey.
I also have an Ultra 5, relatively slow though (266 IIRC). Haven't played with that much yet either. But the U5 and the Indy's are with me up here, so I should be playing with them soon.
I want an Amiga 1000 darn it! Have a 600, but haven't gone much further then booting it up. Looks like fun.
Yes, my interest in UNIX stuph grows all the time. Don't got XENIX for the Tandy 2000 though...yet :(. Linux and the various other flavas of UNIX are cool, but I was surprised to find out that die hard SGI and Sun fans want little or no part of it. Makes good sense actually. Their OS' are tuned for their paricular hardware. And Linux driver support is eh at best. Linux hasn't even been ported to the R10000 based I2's.
As for the 6300 stuph, I could at least use a color graphics card if you should decide to let loose. I'd take all those parts in fact (not to be greedy...of course if no one else wants them) given the oppurtunity, but they'd have to be stripped out of the cases. Way to heavy to ship all that stuph ;)
Now I just need to know what Erik has against Indy's :#
 

mpickering

Experienced Member
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Sep 8, 2006
Messages
70
Location
Potomac, MD
I just got a pair of Indigo2 R10K IMPACT machines. Linux does run on them albeit experimentally. Architecturally, the IP28 (Indigo2) and IP30 (Octane) system boards are similar that using IP30 code to get the Indigo2 to work properly may be possible. Enough has been done to get IP28 to boot.

I am not an SGI diehard. I have Irix but as a means to an end. I want to run Linux on my SGI hardware (a statement in and of itself enough to get one crucified on a SGI board). However, I want to see SGI hardware enjoy a second revival under Linux and be preserved. With SGI fading, my fear is their unique hardware, software and knowledge will die with them. SGIs were the first machines to do 3D hardware accelerated graphics in a fully integrated way (what we take for granted now with modern 3D cards). And it is still FAST.

I can hope SGI will release the technical specifications to their GE, RE and texturing subsystems such as the RealityEngine, the IMPACT line and the VPro line when they go under. If not, that will disappear with them and I don't think it should.

I am using my SGI hardware to get back into hardware programming. Specifically, I am seeing if I can reverse-engineer the OpenGL pipeline from the OS to the graphics hardware. Perhaps with a debugger, persistence and time, I can figure out enough to implement the pipeline in a Linux X driver and finally bring SGI 3D accelerated to Linux and truly make these machines shine.

Ambitious and I probably won't succeed but it is proving to be fun. If nothing else, it gives me some fun toys to play with. :)

Matt
 

Chris2005

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Messages
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Pennsyltucky LOL LOL
"Linux does run on them albeit experimentally."

Huh guess I've been out of the loop for a bit...

It would probably take years, if ever, for a Linux port to take advantage of all the hardware. IRIX is a honey though...I'm told. And all but the latest versions will run on the I2's. I obtained a stack of them last year (and I do mean stack). I traded one of my R10000's for an IBM System/23 Datamaster. Still got 2 left, but one is flakey...
So to connect an SCA SCSI drive to an Indy all I need is an adapter, no? 50-pin SCSI-1 male on one side, SCA male on the other (from memory). Are they common?
 

DoctorPepper

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Messages
479
Location
Palm Coast, FL
Re: SGI and Sun

Re: SGI and Sun

Personally, if I can't run IRIX on SGI, or Solaris on Sun, why bother? Sure, I could get Linux or NetBSD to run on them, but for me, a vintage computer collector/user, it's all about the hardware AND matching software.

Don't get me wrong, I love Linux (just ask anyone around me ;-) ) and the *BSDs, but I only run them on x86 equipment. IRIX may be going away soon (according to the latest articles I've read about SGI), but Sun shows no sign of throwing in the towel over Solaris. As long as I can still get it, I will run it.

The same goes for HP/UX or VMS or what ever the OS was that was originally intended to be run on the system. Just my $0.02.
 

Chris2005

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572
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Pennsyltucky LOL LOL
yeah I basically agree. It would be fun to actually take part in the port of Linux to some of this stuph though.
Sun recently released an updated development environment for Solaris and x86 Linux too I believe (v.11?). Downloaded it sometime ago. Still available I guess.
Anyone know where I can find Star Office 5.1ish for Windoze?
 

dreddnott

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Apr 4, 2006
Messages
318
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Hesperia, California, USA
I'll crucify you right here and now, Mr. Pickering. Better watch yourself with those SGI systems.

;)

And btw, you're right about Silicon Graphics systems doing graphics in a "fully integrated way" but you're dead wrong about modern PCs being the same way - we're a long ways off from a UMA (unified memory architecture) - one of the only x86 implementations of a UMA was with the Visual Workstation Cobalt graphics chipset.

I'd really like to get a Visual Workstation Model 540 for my sister - it'd be specced for Windows 2000 and do all those nifty SGI tricks that she wants.

Hey, there's one on eBay ending in 25 hours, currently at $20 + $80 S&H USD. Looks like it's a dead one - no pic on a standard monitor, he thinks it might need a special SGI one but of course he's dead wrong. :(

BTW, Chris2005, I have StarOffice 5.1ish lying around somewhere. Or maybe I lost the CD. I got it shortly after nabbing RedHat 5.2 in 1998, when I became a Linux devotee.
 

mpickering

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Sep 8, 2006
Messages
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Potomac, MD
dreddnott,

Oh I agree with you on the memory subsystem. The crossbar architecture of the Octane and the ccNUMA memory architecture of the Origin/Oynx system are incredible. The engineering is elegant and the performance is amazing. The elegance of the system design is one of the reasons I like my Octanes.

So far, my SGI hardware is the closest I've gotten to a true supercomputer. SGI implemented many architecture concepts that previously had only been found in big iron. PCs use brute force rather than engineering to solve problems which is rather unfortunate. There is more to performance to computers than clock speed. A PC today still cannot move data simultaneously from disk to memory and from memory to CPU/bus without becoming I/O bound. Only fast clock speeds make the machines work well.

Sorry to deviate off-topic. I find computer design and architecture interesting.

Matt
 

DoctorPepper

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Jun 19, 2003
Messages
479
Location
Palm Coast, FL
I might pick myself up a Playstation 3 come this November (they're still coming out then, right?) just to see how Linux works on it.

They might actually come out *BEFORE* "Duke Nukem Forever"! :)

The price is going to be kind of steep though. Me? I'm still playing (and loving!) my old first generation Playstation (came out before the PSOne). I wish I had brought my old Atari 2600 and all the games with me when I moved down here (from Virginia to Florida, in December, 1996). That was one great find, a fully functional 2600, two sets of controllers (both joysticks and paddles) and a bunch of game cartridges. I played that thing until I thought I'd wear it out!
 

dreddnott

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Apr 4, 2006
Messages
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Hesperia, California, USA
$600, sure, but I've never owned a console before, and I'd be treating it more like a computer system than a box that plays video games.

Hopefully people will give a shot to porting PC-type games over to the Playstation 3 pretty quickly, or at least emulators like DOSBox or ZSNES.

Besides, the PS3 is backwards-compatible with most Playstation and Playstation 2 games.
 

Sharkonwheels

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 21, 2006
Messages
1,640
Location
South Florida
If you guys need Irix, let me know. I currently have:

5.3 for Indy
6.2
6.5.8
6.5.10
6.5.18
6.5.21

I also have a ton of gfx apps, as well, and a ton of saved keys.



Tony
 
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