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Re: Decsystem 20/20 (Digital/DEC) bigger than a pdp11

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  • Herb Johnson
    There were lots of comments following my reply to casual interest in the DECsystem 20 on eBay. First; those not familiar with the KS-20 should look at the eBay
    Message 1 of 29 , Oct 26, 2006
      There were lots of comments following my reply to casual interest in
      the DECsystem 20 on eBay.

      First; those not familiar with the KS-20 should look at the eBay
      listing. It's a SMALL mainframe, but still a machine that needs, er,
      some thought before purchase. At $4K in current bidding between two
      people, I don't think MARCH plans to chase this "item", and it does
      not need rescue.

      There were comments about the KS versus the larger KL. It happens that
      the KS I ran was replaced after I left with a KL. They had to DOUBLE
      the air conditioning to two 5-TON A/C's (60,000 BTU's EACH). This
      machine ran 24/7 of course. I know it used much more electrical power
      too. The room had NO RAISED FLOOR; with the KL in there the air volume
      in the room was so loud and swift that it was dangerous to your
      hearing; raised floors keep that noise underneath the floor.

      Comments about Compuserve: I knew people at the time at Compuserve.
      They used KL's and KI's (bigger DEC mainframes) to run their systems,
      and KS's for network controllers throughout their 1980's network. They
      ran a proprietary OS.

      Comments about running these systems "at home". Sridhar says "I've
      done it at home...as a teenager.." In subsequent posts he hints at
      what that actually took: "had to reinforce the floor to hold the
      weight"; "had to pour a concrete pad outside for the heat exchanger".
      That's my point, Sridhar: you have to do SIGNIFIGANT SITE PREPARATION
      to run these things, most notibly air conditioning and electrical
      power. There are costs to doing so. One can run them until "it starts
      to get hot", some people I know of only run their mainframes in the
      winter, in the garage. Sridhar, all these choices have consequences
      for use: why not think ahead about them?

      Since MARCH apparently has a number of people who are experienced in
      owning and running mainframes, then MARCH has some access to good
      advice and SUPPORT (if persons come forward) if there is a decision to
      obtain some mainframe and to put it to a PLAN of use. But given the
      space and access to electrical power MARCH has, I'd imagine that PLAN
      would be to RUN IT for some extended period on a regular basis.
      InfoAge would certainly have to agree, and I presume some deal for
      paying for power would be necessary. Unless, as in the case of Claude
      Kagan's Burroughs system, it's far too old to operate and is
      sufficiently valuable as legacy for display and preservation.

      But I don't set policy and I don't know any plans, these are my
      opinions. I will not be in charge of any mainframe for MARCH. It's too
      big a commitment for my time, it's not in my area of old computing
      interests. I'm glad others are interested, I hope they step forward
      when and IF a PLAN is discussed.

      Herb Johnson

      Herbert R. Johnson, New Jersey USA
      <a href="http://retrotechnology.com/herbs_stuff/"> web site</a>
      <a href="http://retrotechnology.net/herbs_stuff/"> domain mirror</a>
      my email address: hjohnson AAT retrotechnology DOTT com
      if no reply, try in a few days: herbjohnson ATT comcast DOTT net
      "Herb's Stuff": old Mac, SGI, 8-inch floppy drives
      S-100 IMSAI Altair computers, docs, by "Dr. S-100"
    • Evan Koblentz
      Group announcement: MARCH now stands for, Mainframes Are Really Cool, Herb! ... - Evan ... From: Herb Johnson [mailto:hjohnson@retrotechnology.com] Sent:
      Message 2 of 29 , Oct 26, 2006
        Group announcement: MARCH now stands for, "Mainframes Are Really Cool,
        Herb!"



        :-)



        - Evan


        -----Original Message-----
        From: Herb Johnson [mailto:hjohnson@...]
        Sent: Thursday, October 26, 2006 11:33 AM
        To: midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [midatlanticretro] Re: Decsystem 20/20 (Digital/DEC) bigger than a
        pdp11

        There were lots of comments following my reply to casual interest in the
        DECsystem 20 on eBay.

        First; those not familiar with the KS-20 should look at the eBay listing.
        It's a SMALL mainframe, but still a machine that needs, er, some thought
        before purchase. At $4K in current bidding between two people, I don't think
        MARCH plans to chase this "item", and it does not need rescue.

        There were comments about the KS versus the larger KL. It happens that the
        KS I ran was replaced after I left with a KL. They had to DOUBLE the air
        conditioning to two 5-TON A/C's (60,000 BTU's EACH). This machine ran 24/7
        of course. I know it used much more electrical power too. The room had NO
        RAISED FLOOR; with the KL in there the air volume in the room was so loud
        and swift that it was dangerous to your hearing; raised floors keep that
        noise underneath the floor.

        Comments about Compuserve: I knew people at the time at Compuserve.
        They used KL's and KI's (bigger DEC mainframes) to run their systems, and
        KS's for network controllers throughout their 1980's network. They ran a
        proprietary OS.

        Comments about running these systems "at home". Sridhar says "I've done it
        at home...as a teenager.." In subsequent posts he hints at what that
        actually took: "had to reinforce the floor to hold the weight"; "had to pour
        a concrete pad outside for the heat exchanger".
        That's my point, Sridhar: you have to do SIGNIFIGANT SITE PREPARATION to run
        these things, most notibly air conditioning and electrical power. There are
        costs to doing so. One can run them until "it starts to get hot", some
        people I know of only run their mainframes in the winter, in the garage.
        Sridhar, all these choices have consequences for use: why not think ahead
        about them?

        Since MARCH apparently has a number of people who are experienced in owning
        and running mainframes, then MARCH has some access to good advice and
        SUPPORT (if persons come forward) if there is a decision to obtain some
        mainframe and to put it to a PLAN of use. But given the space and access to
        electrical power MARCH has, I'd imagine that PLAN would be to RUN IT for
        some extended period on a regular basis.
        InfoAge would certainly have to agree, and I presume some deal for paying
        for power would be necessary. Unless, as in the case of Claude Kagan's
        Burroughs system, it's far too old to operate and is sufficiently valuable
        as legacy for display and preservation.

        But I don't set policy and I don't know any plans, these are my opinions. I
        will not be in charge of any mainframe for MARCH. It's too big a commitment
        for my time, it's not in my area of old computing interests. I'm glad others
        are interested, I hope they step forward when and IF a PLAN is discussed.

        Herb Johnson

        Herbert R. Johnson, New Jersey USA
        <a href="http://retrotechnology.com/herbs_stuff/"> web site</a> <a
        href="http://retrotechnology.net/herbs_stuff/"> domain mirror</a> my email
        address: hjohnson AAT retrotechnology DOTT com if no reply, try in a few
        days: herbjohnson ATT comcast DOTT net "Herb's Stuff": old Mac, SGI, 8-inch
        floppy drives S-100 IMSAI Altair computers, docs, by "Dr. S-100"





        Yahoo! Groups Links
      • Sridhar Ayengar
        ... LOL Peace... Sridhar
        Message 3 of 29 , Oct 26, 2006
          Evan Koblentz wrote:
          > Group announcement: MARCH now stands for, "Mainframes Are Really Cool,
          > Herb!"
          >
          >
          >
          > :-)

          LOL

          Peace... Sridhar
        • B. Degnan
          On a tangent ...I have two racks of servers (modern ones) that draw 600-900W per power supply each. I am sure that the IBM Series 1 ate a lot of juice, but
          Message 4 of 29 , Oct 26, 2006
            On a tangent ...I have two racks of servers (modern ones) that draw
            600-900W per power supply each. I am sure that the IBM Series 1 ate a lot
            of juice, but would they really pop a 40 AMP circuit breaker? I will check
            the manuals if anyone is interested. Here is the inventory of the IBM
            Series 1 system at my house. It was given to me by Roy Soltoff.

            IBM Series 1 System Inventory:
            qty) description
            2) 6' IBM 4997 Rack Units with shelves to house the processor and peripherals.
            1) IBM 4956 Processor (see
            http://www.btxmuseum.de/Hardware/geraet.asp?id=120 for German
            equivalent pic of control panel) See also below.
            1) Cambex Corp Model 80810 2-tape drive storage device (no tapes)
            1) IBM 4962 8" disk drive (w/ 3 boxes of software)
            1) IBM 4967 Hard drive (69kg)
            1) IBM 4963 Hard drive (55kg)
            1) IBM 4963A Hard drive (55kg)
            1) IBM 4978 display station and keyboard (display is bad, single horizontal
            line only. Unsure if it is part of the original Series 1 set up.)
            12) Series I system software/hardware manuals "standard 3-ring binder sized"
            20) Series I system software/hardware manuals (tall, blue, with IBM written
            on them)
            There is documentation for all components, plus service logs, software
            documentation, installation instructions, etc. Pretty complete.

            Misc. papers and other documentation and receipts.

            3 boxes of IBM software on 8" disks, including diagnostics for hardware.
            1 box of cables and jacks for additional display stations/terminals
            1 box of printer ribbons (no printer)

            product literature and period IBM sales circulars, etc.

            * The 4956 Processor is full of the appropriate cards for the peripherals
            (hard drives,
            tape drive, terminals, etc.) The system appears to have been upgraded at
            least once. I
            have been able to cable up most peripherals to the matching processor
            cards. I do not
            plan to power up the system at this time. I have cleaned each subsystem,
            but overall it
            was "clean enough" already. Most of the wear is on the rack unit, dings
            and the like.

            16 serial ports I believe.

            Overall condition is OK. Some dust removed. Not powered on.




            Bill D

            At 12:38 PM 10/26/2006 -0400, you wrote:
            >Evan Koblentz wrote:
            > > Group announcement: MARCH now stands for, "Mainframes Are Really Cool,
            > > Herb!"
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > > :-)
            >
            >LOL
            >
            >Peace... Sridhar
          • Herb Johnson
            ... (chuckle) The DEC-20 went to one of four bidders at $16,000 DOLLARS. Who s laughing now? I think the seller, probably the buyer too. Herb
            Message 5 of 29 , Oct 27, 2006
              --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, Sridhar Ayengar
              <ploopster@...> wrote:
              >
              > Evan Koblentz wrote:
              > > Group announcement: MARCH now stands for, "Mainframes Are Really Cool,
              > > Herb!"
              > >
              > > :-)
              >
              > LOL
              >
              > Peace... Sridhar
              >

              (chuckle) The DEC-20 went to one of four bidders at $16,000 DOLLARS.
              Who's laughing now? I think the seller, probably the buyer too.

              Herb
            • Sridhar Ayengar
              ... If I had had that much money, I would have spent it on that. Peace... Sridhar
              Message 6 of 29 , Oct 27, 2006
                Herb Johnson wrote:
                > (chuckle) The DEC-20 went to one of four bidders at $16,000 DOLLARS.
                > Who's laughing now? I think the seller, probably the buyer too.

                If I had had that much money, I would have spent it on that.

                Peace... Sridhar
              • Evan Koblentz
                If I had that much money I would pay off my car loan..... ... From: Sridhar Ayengar [mailto:ploopster@gmail.com] Sent: Friday, October 27, 2006 4:10 PM To:
                Message 7 of 29 , Oct 27, 2006
                  If I had that much money I would pay off my car loan.....

                  -----Original Message-----
                  From: Sridhar Ayengar [mailto:ploopster@...]
                  Sent: Friday, October 27, 2006 4:10 PM
                  To: midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: Re: [midatlanticretro] Re: Decsystem 20/20 (Digital/DEC) bigger
                  than a pdp11

                  Herb Johnson wrote:
                  > (chuckle) The DEC-20 went to one of four bidders at $16,000 DOLLARS.
                  > Who's laughing now? I think the seller, probably the buyer too.

                  If I had had that much money, I would have spent it on that.

                  Peace... Sridhar



                  Yahoo! Groups Links
                • Alexey Toptygin
                  ... If I had that much money, I d take a sabbatical to play with my collection of classic computers... round tuits are the thing in shortest supply in my life.
                  Message 8 of 29 , Oct 27, 2006
                    On Fri, 27 Oct 2006, Evan Koblentz wrote:

                    > If I had that much money I would pay off my car loan.....

                    If I had that much money, I'd take a sabbatical to play with my collection
                    of classic computers... round tuits are the thing in shortest supply in my
                    life.

                    Alexey
                  • Stanley Brewer
                    I remember Claude saying that he was the only private residence in NJ to have 3 phase power. The RESISTORS could only run the Burroughs B-205 in the winter,
                    Message 9 of 29 , Jun 27 11:22 PM
                      I remember Claude saying that he was the only private residence in NJ
                      to have 3 phase power. The RESISTORS could only run the Burroughs
                      B-205 in the winter, even then it got so hot in the barn that they had
                      to open windows!

                      Stan


                      --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, "B. Degnan" <billdeg@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > I have an IBM Series 1 system with three mammoth hard drives, tape
                      drive,
                      > disk drive. I plan to (attempt to) power it up this winter to heat
                      my house.
                      >
                      > Bill
                      >
                      > At 06:31 PM 10/25/2006 -0700, you wrote:
                      > >I didn't think Compuserve ran on a KS...
                      > >They're a lot smaller and IIRC they used a bit slice AMD
                      processor... kind
                      > >of like the 11/730 of DEC PDP10's...
                      > >I can really appreciate the work that goes into getting a mainframe
                      > >running in a residential setting -- but I'm surprised the ES ran
                      cooler
                      > >than a KL...
                      > >That was one of the biggest power sucking beasts DEC had (except
                      for my
                      > >favorite VAX --- the 8650. The 440 volt feed to that one was amazing.
                      > >I don't have the info on what sucked more power -- the KL or the Venus.
                      > >The machine I'd love to have had here was the KB11-CM 11/74 single CPU
                      > >that we had in DEC Princeton. An 11/70 in the DEC Datasystem 570 blue
                      > >would be my next choice and the Red White and Blue11/45 Industrial
                      PDP11
                      > >would be next. (Just for the cool look factor...)
                      > >Bill
                      > >Sridhar Ayengar <ploopster@...> wrote:
                      > >William Pechter wrote:
                      > > > A KL is about 10 foot long by about 5 foot in width (footprint) and
                      > > > pulls a ton of power -- and it's hot running ECL. Think about 3 or 4
                      > > > 11/70 mini's in the room.
                      > > > This is 10K ECL logic IIRC. To run it requires the front end
                      11/40 and
                      > > > the rest of the ECL logic. Not to mention the RP06 Memorex 667
                      (IIRC)
                      > > > disk drives with their power load and weight. (Could be lucky
                      and have
                      > > > RM05's on it -- but usually the system pack was on RP06...)
                      > > > Bill
                      > >
                      > >First of all, a 2020 is a *KS*, so it's smaller. Second of all, I
                      > >currently run an IBM S/390 G1 (some Bipolar, some CMOS) in my house,
                      > >which is bigger than a KS.
                      > >
                      > >I used to run an IBM ES/9021 in my parents' house which ran *much*
                      > >hotter than a KL-10. I had to pour a concrete pad outside for the heat
                      > >exchanger.
                      > >
                      > >I currently run an S/390 G1 (including CPU + DASD controller + 1 DASD
                      > >rack + 3490 tape jukebox), VAX 6660, VAX 7640 and a couple racks
                      full of
                      > >other gear in my dining room. There's also a VAX 8700 in there, but it
                      > >isn't powered on. I had to reinforce the floor to hold the weight.
                      > >
                      > >There are dozens of other machines in various places in the house.
                      > >Including a PDP-11/70 (in the basement), which I've had since I was
                      > >about 11 years old.
                      > >
                      > >I have years of experience running mainframes in a residential setting.
                      > >
                      > >Peace... Sridhar
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      >
                    • Sridhar Ayengar
                      ... I know someone who lives in New Jersey and has three-phase service to provide power to a three-phase compressor he uses to run his automotive lift as well
                      Message 10 of 29 , Jun 28 7:22 AM
                        Stanley Brewer wrote:
                        > I remember Claude saying that he was the only private residence in NJ
                        > to have 3 phase power. The RESISTORS could only run the Burroughs
                        > B-205 in the winter, even then it got so hot in the barn that they had
                        > to open windows!

                        I know someone who lives in New Jersey and has three-phase service to
                        provide power to a three-phase compressor he uses to run his automotive
                        lift as well as a variety of pneumatic tools at the house.

                        I don't know if he had it long enough ago to have had it when Claude was
                        speaking, though. He is an older fellow.

                        Peace... Sridhar
                      • Stan Brewer
                        Older than Claude? : ) Claude must have been being figurative. Stan
                        Message 11 of 29 , Jun 28 7:43 AM
                          Older than Claude?  : )
                          Claude must have been being figurative.                

                                                   Stan

                          Sridhar Ayengar wrote:

                          Stanley Brewer wrote:
                          > I remember Claude saying that he was the only private residence in NJ
                          > to have 3 phase power. The RESISTORS could only run the Burroughs
                          > B-205 in the winter, even then it got so hot in the barn that they had
                          > to open windows!

                          I know someone who lives in New Jersey and has three-phase service to
                          provide power to a three-phase compressor he uses to run his automotive
                          lift as well as a variety of pneumatic tools at the house.

                          I don't know if he had it long enough ago to have had it when Claude was
                          speaking, though. He is an older fellow.

                          Peace... Sridhar

                        • Sridhar Ayengar
                          ... I m not comepletely sure how old Claude is. He looks like 70s or 80s. If so, this guy would roughly be the same age. Classic car old-timer. ... Indeed.
                          Message 12 of 29 , Jun 28 4:41 PM
                            Stan Brewer wrote:
                            > Older than Claude? : )

                            I'm not comepletely sure how old Claude is. He looks like 70s or 80s.
                            If so, this guy would roughly be the same age. Classic car old-timer.

                            > Claude must have been being figurative.

                            Indeed.

                            Peace... Sridhar

                            > Sridhar Ayengar wrote:
                            >>
                            >> Stanley Brewer wrote:
                            >> > I remember Claude saying that he was the only private residence in NJ
                            >> > to have 3 phase power. The RESISTORS could only run the Burroughs
                            >> > B-205 in the winter, even then it got so hot in the barn that they had
                            >> > to open windows!
                            >>
                            >> I know someone who lives in New Jersey and has three-phase service to
                            >> provide power to a three-phase compressor he uses to run his automotive
                            >> lift as well as a variety of pneumatic tools at the house.
                            >>
                            >> I don't know if he had it long enough ago to have had it when Claude was
                            >> speaking, though. He is an older fellow.
                            >>
                            >> Peace... Sridhar
                            >>
                            >
                          • Herb Johnson
                            ... I ve been out of town and so did not follow this thread until my return. Here s some comments. I ran a KA-10 for Ohio State, and later established the site
                            Message 13 of 29 , Jul 9, 2008
                              William Pechter <bpechter@...> wrote:
                              >
                              > I didn't think Compuserve ran on a KS...
                              > They're a lot smaller and IIRC they used a bit slice AMD
                              > processor... kind of like the 11/730 of DEC PDP10's..

                              I've been out of town and so did not follow this thread until my
                              return. Here's some comments.

                              I ran a KA-10 for Ohio State, and later established the site for its
                              replacment, a KS-10 (the system in apparent discussion here). I was a
                              paid, full time, system manager. Both ran TOPS-10.

                              The KS is one pair of rather wide (24-inch) cabinets, and used much
                              less power than any other PDP-10 or -20. Compuserve used the KS-10's
                              as some kind of network node controller (whatever that was). OTherwise
                              they ran the KL's or KI's. Maybe they had a KA somewhere, at some time.

                              Anyone interested in what these are, can search the Web for PDP-10's
                              and PDP-20's, and get correct and better information.

                              There are probably software emulators for these machines. Again,
                              search the Web.

                              Running a mainframe, and keeping it running, is a serious commitment.
                              I get a little tired of saying that. So run around the Web, look for
                              people running these today. Size up what they are doing, come to your
                              own conclusions. Or, rent a truck, grab a mainframe and fill your
                              basement, and blow your circuit breakers as you learn. Or, run an
                              emulator and just wrassle with the software. Your call.

                              Herb Johnson
                              retrotechnology.com
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