PDA

View Full Version : Victory Computer Systems FACTOR - Circa 1982



Securix
June 9th, 2011, 08:58 PM
While browsing some old issues of BYTE, I came across this fascinating piece of hardware that came out around November 1982.

There's very little to be found online about it.

Wondering if anyone has seen/used one of these before and if there's a remote chance someone might have one to part with :)

http://home.prog.fm/factor1.jpg

deadcrickets
June 9th, 2011, 09:59 PM
I don't recognize it myself. Early 80s I was limited to Popular Mechanics, Popular Science and National Geographic. Popular Mechanics had some great computer articles back then.

deadcrickets
June 9th, 2011, 10:02 PM
Found this little tidbit (http://books.google.com/books?id=IDAEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA64&lpg=PA64&dq=%22victory+computer+systems%22+factor&source=bl&ots=DLhrOHZUiZ&sig=4hfQZPRGMrvzToss2yTTxe39tJ8&hl=en&ei=9LLxTcXqLe-u0AHV7ODCBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CDkQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q&f=false) on InfoWorld.

Chuck(G)
June 9th, 2011, 10:52 PM
A tidbit from September 1983 DTACK Grounded:


A company called Victory Computer Systems (not Victor) had a board all ready to go for the 186 last November. When they could not get the 186, they redesigned the board for the 68000 and are now profitably selling the resulting 68000-based computer. Roger Vass, Victory honcho, says "...it is ironical that our success with the 68000-based machine should be a result of Intel's misfortune."

That's funny--we got all of the 80186s that we could use right about then. So there apparently was no Spirit.

The FACTOR apparently enjoyed two models - a 512K and a 1M model. I vividly remember that it seemed like everyone and his brother was coming out with a 68K system--even IBM. About half were running Unix of some flavor and claiming to be minicomputer replacements. Most went out of business; even the ones that were well-funded. Unix was a comparatively easy port to a 68K; it was hell on wheels for a 80286.

I think Victory Computer probably quit the business around 1986. A short run.

Securix
June 10th, 2011, 12:05 AM
Hmmm, seems Dr. Roger Vass was the marketing VP and a co-founder of Altos prior to starting Victory.


A tidbit from September 1983 DTACK Grounded:

That's funny--we got all of the 80186s that we could use right about then. So there apparently was no Spirit.

The FACTOR apparently enjoyed two models - a 512K and a 1M model.

And the ad shows they had a 256K model too.


I vividly remember that it seemed like everyone and his brother was coming out with a 68K system--even IBM. About half were running Unix of some flavor and claiming to be minicomputer replacements. Most went out of business; even the ones that were well-funded. Unix was a comparatively easy port to a 68K; it was hell on wheels for a 80286.

I think Victory Computer probably quit the business around 1986. A short run.

I'm really interested in *ix systems that came out in the mid 80's - one of my favorite "genres" of vintage machines.

commodorejohn
June 10th, 2011, 04:31 AM
Very interesting...be fun to find one of these laying around :)

I wonder if there were any other UNIX-oriented micros that included CP/M boards as an option?

Chuck(G)
June 10th, 2011, 09:30 AM
I recall that when we were running a VAX 11/750 (running BSD) in the mid-80's, we needed to expand our processing to accommodate a few more programmers. We didn't quite need another whole 750; so we were looking at a 730. One of the guys had ties to an outfit called Plexus who was flogging their 68K multi-user box as legitimate competition to the VAX. I opposed it, warning that MIPs was one thing, but I/O was completely another. I was overruled and the Plexus was installed and was a horrible failure.

The programmers had their own acronym for PLEXUS--ending in "unbelievably slow".

Unknown_K
June 10th, 2011, 11:16 AM
There were quite a few interesting oddball machines out in the early 80's that died out when the Mac and PC took over the market. Seems UNIX was popular in that time period and extremely expensive.

Chuck(G)
June 10th, 2011, 01:22 PM
There were quite a few interesting oddball machines out in the early 80's that died out when the Mac and PC took over the market. Seems UNIX was popular in that time period and extremely expensive.

The early 80's was when AT&T was broken up (curse you, Judge Green!) because it wanted to get into the computer business (big mistake--they were out of it by 1993). Up until then, you could have a copy of Unix from AT&T pretty much for the asking, as long as you had the necessary bonafides (education institution or commercial organization)--they were prohibited by law from selling it for profit.

That changed after the breakup. Initially, AT&T considered licensing Unix on a per-seat basis, which its customers really objected to. They eventually settled on a one-time $50K fee for the source and unlimited license. What you got was a couple of reels of 1/2" 9 track tape that would boot on a PDP 11/70 (not sure about other systems). That was the biggest outlay for many garage startups.

caevcs
December 17th, 2011, 03:38 PM
I was the chief software engineer for Victory Computer Systems at the time. Allow me to clarify ;)

- Roger Vass was CEO and founder of VCS, having been a cofounder and marketing VP of Altos Computer Systems.
- The Victory Spirit never came about because, at that time, the 186 chips were on allocation and Intel wouldn't give them out unless you also took in their DRAM chips.

- Although brochures may have listed smaller RAM configurations, all units shipped with at least 1MB of RAM.
- Victory had a short lived desktop chassis (think early PC type chassis with a monitor on top).
- Not shown, Victory also had a "Micro Factor" tower chassis. Slimmer and taller than the Factor, it was about the same size as a typical tall desktop design today.

The Factor/MicroFactor hardware:
- Central bus was VME and all Victory cards were the double height (400 mm?) sizes
- MMU was a segmented architecture with 4K pages (similar to early Sun 68k designs)
- From 1MB to 4MB of DRAM
- an intelligent/smart disk controller based on a Z8000 cpu that supported up to four hard drives (from 40MB to 200MB each), a 25MB streaming tape backup (in lieu, of the 5MB cartridge disk backup shown above), and 8" and/or 5-1/4" floppies. The hard drives were originally 40MB 8" drives and later became 5-1/4". The 8" drives were "overclocked" to 5Mhz to provide extra capacity and faster throughput.
- 8 port intelligent serial multiplexor based on a z80. This allowed the Factor to run all 8 ports at a full 19200 baud, bidirectionally, which many competing 68k machines could not.
- A floating point array processor from Sky Computers (e.g. hardware assisted floating point FFT's anyone?)
- 10BASET Ethernet support
- CP/M hardware acceleration/emulation card that had 4 z80 cpus, allowing for CP/M OS/software to run as a guest environment.

Victory Software:
- Unix System III / System V from Unisoft
- Informix database
- COBOL and Fortran compilers
- The first commercial port of Wind River's VxWorks was to a Victory Factor system.

Company internals/management aside, one of the biggest success/fail points was choice of Unix variant. Many competitors also used the Unisoft System III/V, but some others chose to port Berkeley BSD. Those that chose to port BSD fared better because of features and the popularity stemming from BSD on a VAX.

BTW, I have the User and OEM manuals in online troff format as well as some other goodies such as S-record files for the boot roms, etc.

Securix
May 9th, 2012, 11:47 PM
Wow!

I apologize for not following up sooner. I tend to float in and out of this hobby depending on whatever's going on in my life at the time, so I have not really come back in a while to check on some of my more recent posts.

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for taking the time in replying and posting some background and specs on VCS's machines, especially the Factor.

Hopefully someday I might find a Factor system, but in the meantime, I would love to see some of the manuals and other docs.

Windraider
May 6th, 2013, 11:20 AM
I am Andrew Reid
Was Director & Founder of the Dindima Group ------ Imported to Australia Altos & Victory.

I knew and liked Roger Vass ------ would like to make contact if like me he hangs on to life.

They were grat days in computing ------ alive with many createive minds ---- all before Windows Stagnated
the creative art,

andrewreid@imagingassociates,com.au








I was the chief software engineer for Victory Computer Systems at the time. Allow me to clarify ;)

- Roger Vass was CEO and founder of VCS, having been a cofounder and marketing VP of Altos Computer Systems.
- The Victory Spirit never came about because, at that time, the 186 chips were on allocation and Intel wouldn't give them out unless you also took in their DRAM chips.

- Although brochures may have listed smaller RAM configurations, all units shipped with at least 1MB of RAM.
- Victory had a short lived desktop chassis (think early PC type chassis with a monitor on top).
- Not shown, Victory also had a "Micro Factor" tower chassis. Slimmer and taller than the Factor, it was about the same size as a typical tall desktop design today.

The Factor/MicroFactor hardware:
- Central bus was VME and all Victory cards were the double height (400 mm?) sizes
- MMU was a segmented architecture with 4K pages (similar to early Sun 68k designs)
- From 1MB to 4MB of DRAM
- an intelligent/smart disk controller based on a Z8000 cpu that supported up to four hard drives (from 40MB to 200MB each), a 25MB streaming tape backup (in lieu, of the 5MB cartridge disk backup shown above), and 8" and/or 5-1/4" floppies. The hard drives were originally 40MB 8" drives and later became 5-1/4". The 8" drives were "overclocked" to 5Mhz to provide extra capacity and faster throughput.
- 8 port intelligent serial multiplexor based on a z80. This allowed the Factor to run all 8 ports at a full 19200 baud, bidirectionally, which many competing 68k machines could not.
- A floating point array processor from Sky Computers (e.g. hardware assisted floating point FFT's anyone?)
- 10BASET Ethernet support
- CP/M hardware acceleration/emulation card that had 4 z80 cpus, allowing for CP/M OS/software to run as a guest environment.

Victory Software:
- Unix System III / System V from Unisoft
- Informix database
- COBOL and Fortran compilers
- The first commercial port of Wind River's VxWorks was to a Victory Factor system.

Company internals/management aside, one of the biggest success/fail points was choice of Unix variant. Many competitors also used the Unisoft System III/V, but some others chose to port Berkeley BSD. Those that chose to port BSD fared better because of features and the popularity stemming from BSD on a VAX.

BTW, I have the User and OEM manuals in online troff format as well as some other goodies such as S-record files for the boot roms, etc.