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View Full Version : Found an Entrex setup. I have no idea what to do with it.



targeteye
December 20th, 2016, 08:07 AM
Hello All,
I couple of weeks ago I received a phone call from a friend of mine saying i needed to get to an estate sale will all kinds of vintage electronics in it. After returning several times to this sale I finally had to bring the following pieces back to my house in the hopes of saving them from the dumpster as no one seemed to be interested in them.

This was all mounted in what I believe was a Raytheon PTS-1200 (that's what the tag said) rack about 4 feet tall. Not having anyplace to put it I had no choice but to leave it behind. I'm hoping that due to the fact that is a very nice rack it will get saved on its own merits.

In the top of the rack was mounted a Entrex 480 CPU. Here are a few pictures of it.

348703486834869

Not shown in the pictures are 4 16K core memory boards. I have those as well.

Next down from that was a Remex paper tape reader. I guess it was meant to be feed from a box to a box as there are no spindles for reels on it. Sorry I don't have a picture of this yet.

the 3rd and last item in the rack was a Diablo Model 30 disk drive. Unfortunately I couldn't find any cartridges for it (which struck me as odd)

348733487134872

So.. what the heck do I do with it? I've done my part in saving it all but outside the core memory I really have no ability to keep it. Its just too big and besides I have no ability/disire to get this running. Any suggestions welcome... Do I?

1. Sell It? If so I have no idea what to ask for it. If nothing else I suppose the core memory has some value.
2. Trade it? I would love to get some vintage computer stuff I can use for it.

Anyway. Other than whats available via a google search what do I have here? Any others in existence we know of? Somehow this was associated with Nixdorf.

Also, if this is in the wrong forum please let me know.

Steve

MossyRock
December 24th, 2016, 09:58 AM
I did some digging and found that this system is a dedicated "CRT-to-disk data-entry system and verification system with magnetic tape output". I would date this system back to the early to mid-70s.

https://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/historydisplays/FourthFloor/ReportsAndViewer/Reports/Entrex.pdf

I checked bitsavers.org and there is nothing archived for Entrex or Nixdorf, so I doubt that it would be possible for anyone to get this system running again unless they were incredibly lucky to find a disk cartridge with the system's O/S on it. If it boots from paper tape then it's even less likely. I have no idea if it would run any other O/S, like CP/M, but I doubt it.

It also appears that it used proprietary, specially-designed CRTs. If the interface is RS-232 then it *might* be able to use any old dumb RS-232 terminal.

Since you are dealing with a significant piece of history, it is best-practice to try to transfer the system to someone else as intact as possible. You could try listing the entire system on eBay, with a complete inventory of all the components and boards, along with their condition, if you are willing to go through that. Shipping it would involve a lot of care and expense, so if you live in or near a large metro area it would help as you could list it as "local pick-up only" and still get interest from a significant population.

If you choose to do that but get no buyers, you could sell the Diablo disk drive separately but include its cables and controller board from the CPU. The Diablo 30 disk drive uses an IBM 2315 type disk cartridge and is still highly sought-after by people interested in computer restoration. You should examine the drive's R/W heads carefully for any signs of a head crash, though, and report your findings there as well as the overall condition of the drive - i.e., is there rust/corrosion, damaged parts, etc.

Hope this helps.

tingo
December 26th, 2016, 07:56 AM
Some Entrex info here https://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/historydisplays/FourthFloor/ReportsAndViewer/Reports/Entrex.pdf (NB! PDF file).

falter
December 26th, 2016, 10:08 AM
Looks like it was a key to tape system? I'm guessing you didn't see any terminals for it there? I'd love to have something like that but no idea either what it'd be worth. I assume the terminals are proprietary so youwouldn't be able to do much with it without one? I'm sure shipping would be ugly.

pski
December 26th, 2016, 10:13 AM
Man, did you read the summary on page 2 of that flyer?

"..we made it operator proof. Because the girl preparing data doesn't usually know much about computers. Or data processing. Or perhaps even the machine she is operating."

"And because it's so simple to operate, you can hire the operators on looks alone."

Sometimes, edgy marketing does not age well!

krebizfan
December 26th, 2016, 11:35 AM
I thought the cover was warning enough that presentation would be in questionable taste. I think Entrex went out of business fast enough that aging was not an issue for them.

roberttx
December 26th, 2016, 12:35 PM
Sometimes, edgy marketing does not age well!

In the UK "boiler" used to be slang for a slut. A friend of mine (who happens to be gay - I mention this only to demonstrate no prurient interest on his part) managed a plumbing supply business and had a framed advertisement from a plumbing supplies magazine, featuring a model in high heels and fishnets captioned "The Boilers of the Future".

Those were different times.

targeteye
December 26th, 2016, 09:01 PM
I did some digging and found that this system is a dedicated "CRT-to-disk data-entry system and verification system with magnetic tape output". I would date this system back to the early to mid-70s.

https://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/historydisplays/FourthFloor/ReportsAndViewer/Reports/Entrex.pdf

I checked bitsavers.org and there is nothing archived for Entrex or Nixdorf, so I doubt that it would be possible for anyone to get this system running again unless they were incredibly lucky to find a disk cartridge with the system's O/S on it. If it boots from paper tape then it's even less likely. I have no idea if it would run any other O/S, like CP/M, but I doubt it.

It also appears that it used proprietary, specially-designed CRTs. If the interface is RS-232 then it *might* be able to use any old dumb RS-232 terminal.

Since you are dealing with a significant piece of history, it is best-practice to try to transfer the system to someone else as intact as possible. You could try listing the entire system on eBay, with a complete inventory of all the components and boards, along with their condition, if you are willing to go through that. Shipping it would involve a lot of care and expense, so if you live in or near a large metro area it would help as you could list it as "local pick-up only" and still get interest from a significant population.

If you choose to do that but get no buyers, you could sell the Diablo disk drive separately but include its cables and controller board from the CPU. The Diablo 30 disk drive uses an IBM 2315 type disk cartridge and is still highly sought-after by people interested in computer restoration. You should examine the drive's R/W heads carefully for any signs of a head crash, though, and report your findings there as well as the overall condition of the drive - i.e., is there rust/corrosion, damaged parts, etc.

Hope this helps.

Yes it does help. I think it points out that really the only way to understand the value is thru ebay. I really think the Diablo drive was part of the Raytheon setup that was originally in the cabinet not the Entrex. There was no cable connecting them together where I found it. It did appear the guy was trying to load it from paper tape. Some sort of experimenters setup I suspect.

I will post on ebay for at least what the core memory is worth to me and if it doesn't sell (will local pickup or drop off) then i'll figure out what to do with it after that. Frankly i took it home to rescue it. I had a feeling it was going to get tossed.

Thanks
Steve

targeteye
May 5th, 2017, 02:45 PM
I've been chatting with a member about this system and he indicated he thought the computer was a DG Nova Clone. Sure enough it would appear that he was spot on about the Nova Clone. In fact this mini computer has a Digital Controls Corporation CPU card and the overall appearance is very similar to the DCC D-116 which is in turn a clone of the Data-General Nova 1200. Evidently DG sued DCC over the D-116.

http://www.simulogics.com/nostalgia/DCC/DCC116_03.jpg

In terms of Entrex sn online article says. ""Some users have found they are able to put a lot more applications on the upper-end Entrex systems, which have a Digital Computer Controls, inc. mini-computer. In fact, Entrex performs bill-of-materials processing on its in-house system, Feddersend said."

The CPU and the Diablo will be on Ebay soon to try and establish if they have any value. One way or another they will be moved out of my garage into the hands of someone that can find an appropriate home for them (which is the biggest reason I saved them from certain doom).

Steve

commodorejohn
May 5th, 2017, 03:48 PM
I thought it looked suspiciously like a Nova clone.

firebirdta84
May 17th, 2017, 10:09 AM
targeteye, thanks for posting this thread. I'm interested in following the project of any restorations of this "Entrex" DG clone.

I just saw one of these on eBay, and started this thread on that:

http://www.vcfed.org/forum/showthread.php?57803-Vintage-Entrex-480-DCC-D116-mini-computer-DG-nova-clone

Was this you selling yours? Or is this a separate one?

I would love to see anyone get this Entrex running. I've done a little work with the DG clones ( http://Point4iris.com ), but I'm by no means any expert. But I'd love to provide any help at all if I can. I have a passion for seeing strange hardware like this live once again.

I would have bid on this myself, but I missed the boat on that auction.

Thank you again for saving these hardware pieces "from certain doom"!

Best,
-AJ

firebirdta84
May 17th, 2017, 08:12 PM
I just found a thread of messages on CCTalk about a system like this, branded Nixdorf.

http://marc.info/?t=149107530000004&r=1&w=2

I just thought it might be helpful to archive links to them here in this thread also.

I'm starting to get more and more interested in this system.

firebirdta84
May 26th, 2017, 04:50 PM
And, I've just decided to archive this and everything else I can find on the Entrex 480 system at:

Entrex480.com (http://Entrex480.com)

For what it's worth...Enjoy!
-AJ

firebirdta84
September 30th, 2018, 02:09 PM
Just thought I'd bump this thread up again.

Has anyone heard of this system surfacing again anywhere in the USA? I'm really wondering of the whereabouts of this Entrex 480 system, and if the new owner is doing anything with it.

I'm really regretting not buying/bidding on it on eBay a year ago May.

Here's my web page archiving the auction, as well as excerpts from this thread.

https://entrex480.blogspot.com/2017/05/entrex-480.html

Thanks, all!
-AJ