Digital Computers

This section encompasses general purpose programmable arithmetic-logic systems of various types, including minicomputers, workstations, programmable logic controllers and small systems.

Rockwell (Dynatem) AIM-65
 
Rockwell (Dynatem) AIM-65


The Rockwell R6500 Advanced Interactive Microcomputer, better known as the AIM-65, is a 6502-based single-board development computer introduced in 1978. The AIM-65 is based on the same architecture as the original MOS Technology KIM-1 6502 development system, introduced in 1976. The AIM-65 features an on-board 20-digit single line alphanumeric LED display and thermal printer, and a detachable QWERTY keyboard mounted on a separate PCB. The AIM-65 supports a number of different language ROMS, including assembler, BASIC, FORTH, Pascal and Rockwell's proprietary PL/65 language, derived from ALGOL and PL/I.

The unit pictured here is a Revision 5 AIM-65, manufactured under license by Dynatem after Rockwell ceased production. The Dynatem AIM-65 has a number of minor differences, including support for newer RAM and ROM IC types which became available over the production lifespan of the AIM-65. The Dynatem AIM-65 is extremely rare.

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Texas Instruments 5TI
 
Texas Instruments 5TI


Devices included in this entry:

Texas Instruments 5TI-1032-1 Sequencer
Texas Instruments 5TI-2001 Programmer (pictured in thumbnail)


The Texas Instruments 5TI is a compact TTL-driven programmable logic controller, designed for industrial automation. A basic system consists of a 5TI-1032 series sequencer, and a 5TI-2000 series programmer.

The 5TI-2001 programmer is a handheld interface for the 5TI-1032-1 sequencer. It allows the operator to temporarily interface with the sequencer and enter program steps. This device does not have a power switch or any provision for using line or battery power; it receives its power from the sequencer, through a permanently attached interface cable. The case of the 5TI is the same as that of the SR-20 scientific calculator, desktop companion of the SR-10 pictured above. However, its similarities to the SR-20 are superficial. The 5TI programmer is built from discrete TTL, implementing 39 TTL ICs in the programmer, and another 39 TTL, static RAM and UV-EPROM ICs in the sequencer itself. The display is a Burroughs Panaplex II with 10+2 digits, similar to the displays used in various TI desktop calculators from the same era.

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Digital Equipment Corporation VAXserver 3500
 
Digital Equipment Corporation VAXserver 3500


The DEC VAXserver 3500 is a high end variant in the MicroVAX III series. Codenamed 'Mayfair', the VAXserver 3500 was introduced in September 1987 and makes use of a 11.11MHz CVAX chipset. The CVAX microprocessor is a second-generation single-chip VAX ISA implementation, containing 134,000 transistors on a 9.4 x 7.4mm die, and fabricated using DEC's first-generation CMOS process. The entire CVAX chipset consists of six chips: the CVAX 78034 CPU, CFPA floating-point accelerator, CVAX clock chip, CVAX System Support Chip (CSSC), CVAX Memory Controller (CMCTL), and the CVAX Q-Bus Interface Chip (CQBIC).

Due to DEC's obnoxious software licensing schemes, the VAX 3500 platform was offered in a number of insignificantly different variants. The two key variants are the MicroVAX 3500 and VAXserver 3500, which are virtually identical except for a slight difference in the CPU microcode which determines whether the system can run single-user or multi-user software. A MicroVAX 3500 can be easily converted to a VAXserver 3500, simply by swapping its KA650-AA CPU card for a KA650-BA card.

The VAXserver 3500 is a class of system once referred to as a 'supermini'. Such systems evolved directly from traditional minicomputers of the 1960s and 1970s, but typically featured a 32-bit word, elaborate instruction sets and other advanced characteristics more commonly seen on larger systems.

The original VAX-11/780 is considered to be the definitive supermini; the VAX architecture completely dominated the mid-range computer market for about 15 years, beginning in 1978. This period was marked by a rapid decline in the minicomputer industry, which would ultimately destroy DEC and many other notable minicomputer manufacturers, such as Data General and Prime Computer. The only major minicomputer manufacturer to survive the culling would be Hewlett-Packard, which ultimately devoured the carcasses of its various competitors. The VAXserver 3500 is among the last minicomputers ever built. Beginning in the late 1980s, the mid-range computer market would be taken over by 64-bit RISC servers and desktop workstations, and the minicomputer form factor would be abandoned entirely.

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Hewlett-Packard 2114B Computer
 
Hewlett-Packard 2114B Computer


The Hewlett-Packard 2114B computer is a size-reduced, cost-reduced descendant of the original HP 2116A minicomputer. Released in 1969, the HP 2114B is a hard-wired word-addressed 16-bit CPU with a derivative PDP-8 architecture. Its technology consists of SSI TTL integrated circuits and ferrite core memory.

The early HP 2100 series computers are regarded as some of the most reliable computers ever built; systems often ran continuously for years without failure. They also marked the birth of a CPU architecture that would be adapted and utilized in numerous HP computers, calculators and analyzers over the next two decades.

2114B Brochure (PDF)
2114B Price Sheet 06/1970 (PDF)
2114B Price Sheet 05/1971 (PDF)
2114B Volume 1: Specifications and Basic Operation (PDF)
2114B Volume 2: Operation & Maintenance Manual (PDF)
2114B Volume 3: Input/Output System Operation (PDF)
2116 / 2115 / 2114 Absolute Binary Loader Reference Card (PDF)
12618A Synchronous Data Set Interface Kit (PDF)
12539A Time Base Generator Interface Kit (PDF)

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Hewlett-Packard 2100A Computer
 
Hewlett-Packard 2100A Computer


The Hewlett-Packard 2100A is the first iteration of HP's second generation 16-bit minicomputers. The 2100A utilizes the same basic architecture as HP's first generation systems, but is noteworthy as being the first microprogrammable minicomputer, and the first minicomputer with a switching power supply.

The CPU of the HP 2100A and nearly identical HP 2100S are constructed of discrete TTL and CTuL logic ICs, and are the last 2100-series minicomputers manufactured by HP that make use of core memory. The 2100A has a maximum memory capacity of 32K, 14 I/O channels, dual-channel DMA and hardware multiply/divide. Essentially, the 2100A is a maximally upgraded, microprogrammable 2116C, in a chassis less than half the size. The introduction of the 2100A instantly made all previous HP minicomputers obsolete.

Unlike HP's first generation systems, the 2100A entirely omits all register displays (except for the switch register), marking a turning point in the evolution of computers which spread across the entire industry through the 1970s. Without register displays, traditional machine language programming from the front panel would become an impossibility.

The unit pictured here was originally installed as part of a Measurex process control system, and has been re-branded as a Measurex 2650 Central Processing Unit. An internal examination of the computer reveals a custom Measurex circuit card installed in slot A9, a location normally reserved for a genuine HP direct memory access card.

Based in Cupertino CA, Measurex was one of the first companies to develop industrial process control equipment, and their early systems were built around HP 2116 and HP 2100 computers. Measurex was one of HP's largest computer customers, but they had the bad habit of anonymizing or re-branding the HP computers used in their systems. The majority of these early Measurex process control systems were employed in paper mills, a true testament to the near indestructibility of HP's 2100-series minicomputers.

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Hewlett-Packard 21MX / 1000 M-Series Computer
 
Hewlett-Packard 21MX / 1000 M-Series Computer


After the 2100A and 2100S, HP released the 21MX series, believed to be the industry's first minicomputers to be equipped with semiconductor RAM. The original 21MX series from 1974 consists of three models of ascending size and expansion capacity: 2105A, 2108A and 2112A.

The 2108B (pictured here) and 2112B were added to the series in 1976, the most notable improvement over the 'A' variants being the relocation of the power switch from the rear of the CPU to a more traditional and accessible location behind the lockable front panel.

In 1976, HP released the improved 21MX E-Series, renaming the original 21MX computers as 21MX M-Series to distinguish them from the E-Series systems. When HP released the third generation of 21MX systems in 1978, the naming convention was changed once again. These new systems were named 1000 F-Series, and the older 21MX systems were renamed as 1000 M-Series and 1000 E-Series to maintain conformity.

1000 M-Series Installation & Service Manual (PDF)

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