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re: mini/midi/maxi/mainframe

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  • mejeep_ferret
    Ya, I m late to reply to this thread ... I kinda remember the 70s and 80s when there were vague classes of computers: minicomputers, midi and mainframe. I d
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 21, 2009
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      Ya, I'm late to reply to this thread ...

      I kinda remember the 70s and 80s when there were vague classes of
      computers: minicomputers, midi and mainframe. I'd say most were
      identified by their physical size and cost.

      Mainframes are easy to identify: large cabinets in the air conditioned
      "hands off" machine room. Costs millions of dollars. They still do.

      Minicomputers start the size of a breadbox and grow into 1 rack, then
      2 or more (such as the PDP8, PDP11, etc). They're known not so much
      for their capabilities but their limitations: maximum amount of
      addressing/RAM, how many users before it gets too laggy, etc.

      Midicomputers were maxed out minicomputers, probably back when
      "departmental shared-computers" were advocated as a decentralized
      alternative to company-wide mainframes. I suspect large CAD/CAM
      systems such as wall-sized GE Calma were considered midicomputers (it
      filled the room with the dedicated color graphic terminals, digitizers
      and large scale plotter). The image that comes to mind is a VAX
      11/780: boxes too small to be called "mini".

      I assert that the evolution of the microprocessor CPU is the main
      driving force for the blurring of the classes. Once minicomputers
      (even microcomputers) broke the 1 meg RAM barrier, they were getting
      into the "big league" for solving problems that once required
      mainframes. For a while, "workstations" were high-end vs.
      Personal-computers, but with today's high end gaming systems with
      graphics co-processors outrunning the CPU, most labels no longer apply.

      -- jeffj
    • mejeep_ferret
      Yeep! Is there a way to edit postings here? ... Micro/mini/midi/mainframe is more of a I know it when I see it thing than a list of parameters.
      Message 2 of 2 , Feb 21, 2009
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        Yeep! Is there a way to edit postings here?

        > Midicomputers ... The image that comes to mind is a
        > VAX 11/780: boxes too >> LARGE << to be called "mini".

        Micro/mini/midi/mainframe is more of a "I know it when I see it" thing
        than a list of parameters.
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