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  1. #1
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    Default Honeywell 200 resurrection

    Hi there. This is my first posting - could be my last.

    The Honeywell 200 seems to be extinct; correct me if I'm wrong. I intend to try to provide a remedy, a replica built from original Honeywell parts from around 1969, more a pastiche though really as they're too modern. I have almost enough components, but if you have any that might be suitable in your museum or even just remember what a Honeywell 200 looked like please respond.

    By the way, don't believe that the H-200 killed the IBM 1401 like they say in the histories. I think the 1401 died of natural causes.

    Rob S

  2. #2
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    I always liked the H200's futuristic (for the time) styling. You've got quite a job ahead of you.

    The 1401 (and 1410 and 1441 and the 7010) were in use well into the 1970s and many lower S/360 and S/370 systems were run in 1401 emulation mode after IBM withdrew support for the older systems. I don't think that IBM ever considered the H200 as any particular threat. Once IBM got its foot in the door of a customer, it was very difficult to dislodge.

  3. #3
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    I agree with you. I have read a document written by Dr. William Gordon, head of the H-200 development team, setting out the original proposal for the design of the H-200 and in it emulating the 1401 is treated as almost an afterthought. It's just the pat historical records that call the H-200 the 1401-Killer. I understand that it did cause the IBM management to set a very rigid date for the launch of the 360 as damage-limitation though. Our company went the same internal emulation path with successive generations of Honeywell machine. I had old programmes from the H-200 days still running under not one but two levels of emulation when we were using a Honeywell model 66. If you're wise you stay with what you know best.

    The visual style of the H-200 is just one reason why there should still be one somewhere. I knew someone who had the control panel from one as a souvenir but he threw it away when he moved house. I intend to build as precise a replica of that panel as I can but I only have less than thirty of those original iconic illuminated push-buttons and the panel needs over fifty, so I'll have to improvise a bit. After doing that designing the logic should be a walk in the park.

    Rob S

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    Are those button caps simply acrylic? If so, it should certainly be possible to machine or cast them and fit them to contemporary illuminated pushbutton bodies.

    I never got to see a 200 up close; my first contact with Honeywell iron was via a friend who'd taken a job in Phoenix (at the old GE computer plant) in the early 70s with them. I got to take a stroll through the ill-fated water-cooled 66/85 prototype they were working on--really, just a bunch of free-standing racks sitting inside of an enclosure that you could walk into. The console the engineers were using was very impressive--Nixie-tube bar-graph displays in particular caught my eye.

  5. #5
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    Yes, inch long chunks of three quarter inch square translucent plastic, don't know which kind but acrylic seems likely. The problem I see is getting or casting acrylic with the same colour and density of translucence as the originals. I assume one adds some ingredient to the clear mix to cause the effect. Perhaps a professional encapsulating firm would know how to do it. Not all the buttons need to light up, but the whole style of the panel would be ruined if they didn't all look the same and I don't want to abandon the originals entirely and use all replicas. Provided that I grouped old and new buttons separately it might look acceptable.

    Good news regarding memory for the machine. Someone in Amsterdam has offered me several 4k H-200 memory banks with supporting driver boards. That will solve one problem.

    I'm being very pragmatic about this project. At its conception I christened the planned computer "Honey Pi" after the Honeywell 200. I changed Honeywell to Honey because it won't be entirely Honeywell and the 200 to Pi because the project may be irrational and never end. Its signature demonstration programme is to compute Pi beyond the Feynman point (767 decimal places) using only 2k bytes of memory and no hardware multiply or divide, printing the result progressively while doing the calculations. I have already written and tested the programme on a PC-based emulator and the H-200 would take 14 minutes 1.9 seconds to run it to 770 places, so all I need now is to build the real computer, which will take me much longer.

    When I've made some significant progress to report I'll open the honeypi.org.uk website to document it so that I don't fill this forum with details, but building that will just add to my work.

  6. #6
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    I'd definitely talk to a plastics firm. You can tint casting resin, but it's a tricky business. Don't overlook the many model-making fora that are online--there's a wealth of information there.

    What are you going to do about peripherals for your system?

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by RobS View Post

    The visual style of the H-200

    Rob S
    Later models in the series (the Model 2200 and Model 4200) broke away from the low-boy style of the earlier models, though they still used the low logic cabinets for peripheral control units. The 2200 had a tall-boy style (as did the optional 1100 Floating Point Unit). The 4200 began to look a bit like the IBM 360.

    Alan Jardine (just practising!)

  8. #8

    Default Introductory Message

    Yesterday, I read Rob's article on his HoneyPi project in the current issue of the Bulletin of the (British) Computer Conservation Society. I made contact with Rob, we swapped some H200 information and I decided to sign up here.

    I was employed by Honeywell from 1965 to 1974 and worked almost exclusively on the Series 200 / 2000 range of computers. Eventually, the Series consisted of the Models 120, 125, 200, 1200, 2200, 3200 and 4200. (There was a Model 8200 but it was a hybrid of the 200 and 800 architectures. I don't think any were installed outside of North America.)

    I thought I'd share what I remember about the Series 200 in here before my own "main memory" fades. If anyone has a particular question, I'll try to answer.

    Regards,
    Alan Jardine.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Jardine View Post
    Yesterday, I read Rob's article on his HoneyPi project in the current issue of the Bulletin of the (British) Computer Conservation Society.
    If anyone wants to read the article the bulletin in accessible here. http://www.cs.man.ac.uk/CCS/res/res66.htm Note that my project is not one operated or funded by the CCS; they focus on British computer technology but the editor liked the article and included it. I've been busy with other things this summer, so haven't had any progress to report.
    Rob - http://www.honeypi.org.uk
    The Internet is a winch to get your project off the ground ... but always have a parachute handy.

  10. #10
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    Now here's a funny thing. For one brief moment there was a posting from marcelvanherk on this thread. Marcel is the man with the H-200 memory modules and therefore a key person in my project. He subscribed to my thread at my invitation but I suspect that his posting may have been zapped by a zealous moderator, which is quite understandable and laudible, but I hope that Marcel sees the funny side and returns as I would be at a distinct disadvantage without him. Are you still there Marcel?

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