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Thread: At&t unix-pc/3b1

  1. #1

    Smile At&t unix-pc/3b1

    Has anyone here worked with these?

    The UNIX-PC and sibling 3B1 were AT&T's attempt to compete against the IBM PC on the desktop. They were built for AT&T by workstation manufacturer Convergent Technologies (now part of Unisys.) They had bit-mapped monochrome consoles with a GUI called FACE and used a Logitech three button mouse. They used a 10 mmhz Motorola 68010 CPU (the first with hardware memory management), and MFM hard drives, with a 360K 5.25 floppy drive for external storage. They ran a Converget port of AT&T Unix System V Release 2, and could boot and run Unix in one megabyte of memory and do useful work. They could take up to 4MB RAM, and up to a 72MB HD.

    Lovely little machines, though a PITA to service, doomed to failure by AT&T's inability to understand the market and actually sell systems.

    I was once Tech Support Manager for a small Unix systems house that resold AT&T gear, and I serviced and maintained UNIX-PC/3B1 and 3B2 machines. I still own a working 3B1, and you'll pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

    (I do spend most time on other things these days, With Windows, Ubuntu Linux, Android and Palm OS in the mix, depending on what machine I'm pointing at.)
    ______
    Dennis

  2. #2

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    Hi Dennis, thanks for posting here.

    I have a couple of 3B1 systems! You're right, they are a REAL pain to work on, I can't believe how difficult they are to get open and closed. They are not for the weak of heart. Still, there's something about them that's really charming, and I enjoy running one from time to time.

    My real love right now is 3B2 systems. I've been reverse-engineering the 3B2/310 and 3B2/400 so I can write an emulator for them. It's a real pity that there isn't more internals documentation about how they work.

    Best Wishes,

    -Seth
    Seth Morabito
    Commodore and DEC Enthusiast
    Poulsbo, WA, USA

  3. #3
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    We had a fleet of these at a former employer as POS systems in retail tire stores. Each 3B1 had one or two terminals hanging off it, and communicated with the 3B2/600 at the main office over UUCP a couple of times a day via 9600 modems.

    I had taken home a couple of 3B1s when they went out of service, but sold them later on. Wish I had one back again now. I also rescued the 3B2/600 when it retired, but also (regretfully) moved that along some time ago.

    Currently I have a 3B2/300 with a DMD 5620, and that satisfies my AT&T thing for now Looking forward to Twylo's emulator when it's ready for the world!

  4. #4

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    I have a 7300 with an error somewhere in the memory subsystem (based on the diagnostic LEDs). I set it aside for other projects, but I've been meaning to get back to it.

    It came with the full set of documentation, install disks, keyboard, mouse, extra RAM & serial boards and both an internal seagate HD and a spare.

  5. #5
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    I had a 3B1 that had come from a local bank a while ago...dead hard disk, but it booted from floppies and passed all other diagnostics. It had the apparently quite rare 10 mbit Ethernet board (not StarLAN!). I ended up trading it to RetroHacker_ for a MicroVAX 3100 with a TZ30 that I needed for a PDP-11 related project.

    Recently I acquired a large quantity of UNIX PCs, 7 or 8 I think. I do not look forward to tearing into them!

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by glitch View Post
    Recently I acquired a large quantity of UNIX PCs, 7 or 8 I think. I do not look forward to tearing into them!
    Hey! You're THE glitch! I just picked up an XT-IDE kit from you on ebay.

    If by "UNIX PCs" above you mean AT&T and you're willing to part with a working motherboard, consider me interested!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmigaJules View Post
    Hey! You're THE glitch! I just picked up an XT-IDE kit from you on ebay.
    Indeed, that's me

    Quote Originally Posted by AmigaJules View Post
    If by "UNIX PCs" above you mean AT&T and you're willing to part with a working motherboard, consider me interested!
    Yep, that's what I've got, per the thread title. AFAIK all of them are complete, so I don't know that I'll have a separate working motherboard -- I typically won't part out complete machines like these, since they're fairly uncommon, but I'll let you know if I end up with one!

  8. #8

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    Ooh, i've always wanted one of these! As I think we briefly touched upon on the IRC, if you ever decide to part with some of the systems, I'd totally be interested in snagging one too. They're one of my personal "holy grail" systems!

  9. #9
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    I thought you'd wanted a 3B2 system? Name aside, they have very little in common -- the UNIX PC didn't start life as an AT&T product, even.

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