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Thread: Dubner 20k, mysterious artefact from local TV station's dumpster

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    New Zealand
    Blog Entries


    Welcome and thanks for the insight Bob. It's aways nice to hear from those who actually develope units like this.
    Thomas Byers (DRI)- "You'll have a million people using the A> [MS-DOS prompt] forever. You'll have five million using [nongraphic] menu systems such as Topview, Concurrent PC-DOS, Desq, and those types. But there'll be 50 to 100 million using the iconic-based interfaces."

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Oslo, Norway
    Blog Entries


    Yes, that was a very interesting read. Thanks!

  3. #13


    I worked with a Dubner CBGII for 9 years, 1990-1999, the system was available like yours in 3 versions, a simple character generator, add a paint program, add a 3d system. It stood 6 feet tall and roared like a lion. I was doing 3d before it was gaming popular. You could go between the chargen/paint/3d with just a button push.
    It had 2 planes but could have had an optional 3rd plane. Run length encoding, yeppers, made very small files working on 10 meg 10 inch drives. If you have seen the early Heathkit educational prog videos, I did most of those.
    I experimented on the machine, it was smart programming, but as time went, it got creatively frustrating because of the technical limitations. Slowly the machine was dying anyways. Today those 6 feet of it you can technically hold in the palm of your hand and that far exceeds the Dubner capabilities, but these phones are designed to the consumer in mind, not development.

    Dubner later offerred a PC card for video capturing and frame ticking. But the CBG2 was done. I liked the Dubner for its technical smarts, I am still hunting for a 3D app that equals it, none yet. At least for down to earth point manipulation.

  4. #14


    The first TV graphics machine I got to work on was the Dubner CBG with the 3d option. It was at a post house in Paris called Image Resource in 1986. They had bought the machine but didn't know how to run it so they hired an American kid to read the manual and that was the beginning of my career in TV! I remember that fridge sized computer very fondly - I felt like I was in the future.

  5. #15

    Default Dubner/Presto2000

    Hi there,

    I happened to read your story about the birth of the 10K. I started working in video back around '82 when I was in high school, and continue to this day.

    Back when I started working where I am employed now, they needed a solution to be able to put a clock/countdown on screen keyed over video. The only machine that would be able to do what we needed without spending a bundle was a 20K. I had remembered working with it at an old edit house, so I found one used and put it in. That was in 2000 and it's still in and working to this day!

    Ours though has a plate on the front that says Presto2000, so this was after Grass Valley bought the company I guess. I would be interested to know what year this CG was made, since I am sure it is the oldest piece of equipment we have by far.

    Thanks again, and very interesting story!!

    Lance Rosol

  6. #16


    Hi Lancer, is your Dubner still connected to a Bernoulli drive? I still have my old drive from my days at WVUE-8 in New Orleans that has got some news graphics on it.

  7. #17


    Bob Dubner - I avidly (forgive that word!) read your post. I worked for ABC at WLS-TV from 1975 to 1999 and during that time heard Dubner mentioned by my boss in tech maintenance, Jim Owens. We had only Chyron equipment in Chicago where I worked but when I went to tech school at Grass Valley for their 300 video switcher they were promoting the Dubner.

    After leaving ABC, I went to work for Northwestern University at the studios used by the School of Communication and the Medill journalism school. In the control rooms were Dubners with the 5" floppy. Sad to say, no professors wanted to teach the tech side of TV production, they all wanted to teach "theory" (read: BS). so the Dubners sat humming but unused.

    I have copied your post and will send it along to my former tech maintenance coworkers who I am sure will enjoy it as much as I did.

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Salisbury Maryland


    Back in the days of the dinosaurs I worked in public TV we had Videfont systems and spent much time maintaining them. Huge systems with what we thought were big 10 meg drives, dedicated serial composition terminals lots of heat and noise and all dedicated proprietary operating systems. Our Ampex still store and Grass Valley systems all were unique to their own world too. Common thing back in the eighties. We had a programing pod that looked like a little hand calculator for the Grass Valley stuff.
    The one thig that we had that was different was a Aladdin Pinnacle box that was used to import the new computer graphics and images that were being generated by digital cameras, jpegs. That worked thru a SCSI port with a 286 windows 3.11 workstation. All the other stuff is long gone including a NEC DVE system that was run by a PDP-11 but because it was small I did keep the Aladdin system and a year ago or so played around with trying to get it working again but the oldest system I was able to find to pair it with was a P4/1 Ghz frame that was left over from one of our old Avid workstations here at the university where I work now and have been having a time trying to get all the old SCSI cards to work with Windows 98, The Aladdin software will not run under XP so I built up a retro 98 system. It’s fun trying to get this old hardware to work being a lot of the drivers for old systems like 95/98 have all disappeared. Another interesting item is the Aladdin runs at 800 X 600 that I remember back in the eighties was a challenge and today trying to get your graphics cards to operate that low in 256 color was an issue.
    So far I have been able to get the software to run in Windows 98 but I do not have a 98 driver for the SCSI card I am using or I can dual boot to XP and see the hardware but the app won’t work. Think I may have a couple other obsolete SCSI cards and will try to get back to that system soon and see if I can resolve all the issues. It’s a pointless project that the rest of the people here at the university consider a complete waste of time but being one of the old timers around here I can get away with.
    Attached is a picture of the system, the graphic of the orange was one that came with the system back in the eighties.


  9. #19


    Congrats on your setup, it looks pretty awesome. But Pinnacle *gasp* that system was not my favorite. It was a step down for me as I was used to Quantel Paintbox and Dubner 3. It was all PC based and involved programming... not my cup of tea as I am a designer not a programmer. I worked on the Pinnacle at channel 32 WLAE in New Orleans a public channel, needless to say the gear was sort of low end.

  10. #20


    Greetings to all. I came across this forum by accident after incorrectly typing a key word. Strange thing in life is that serendipity rules.
    I am not in anyway engineering inclined, being an accountant, but was one of the owners of Broadcast Video Systems from Canada. We supplied the Cox 203 Coders ( British for encoders) used by Dubner Systems. Bert Verwey from BVS had a very good relationship with Harvey and regaled us many times on the amazing card tricks harvey would demonstrate. If I mentioned the NAB shows that would be a whole knew area of stories from the 'old days'. We sold the 'coders' to Dubner Systems until we were replaced by the Encoders made by GVG themselves. Very small world indeed.

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