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Thread: Hi from NorCal

  1. #1

    Default Hi from NorCal

    Hi, this is Simon. I'd like to kick myself for missing the VCF last month in Mountain View! I've been collecting vintage computers and electronics since the 1980's, when some of them weren't that old. I'm also into vintage auto racing. Collectors of vintage cars and vintage computers have the same mentality, but different hardware. I've been to a few of the VCF events in the past, but not lately. Glad to see the organization has some new life in it. About my computer collection:

    IBM 3270 PC AT/GX - This is a monster only IBM could build. The monitor has a warning label noting that it weighs 35 Kilos (77 lbs)! The base unit also weighs in at about 50 lbs. This unit was supplied to a company I worked for as a loaner, then the company that loaned to us said they didn't want it back. My boss told me to get it out of there, so I did. The system was OEM'd by Valid Logic Systems. In addition to the 19" 1024x1024 monitor, it has the AT base unit, the Display Attachment unit, and the massive 24 function key 3270 kb. In order to run the Valid Logic software, the system has an Opus card with 2 NS32016 processors so it can boot ATT SYS V Unix and run Valid GED. This system took the trifecta at the 2000 VCF, best in class (post 1981), best presentation, and best of show. I'm actually cleaning it up and checking to see if it still works at the moment. It has 2 MFM hard drives, and a 5.25" floppy. The tons of manuals (IBM + ATT + Valid) are what got me best presentation for completeness. At the VCF, I was drawing logic schematics on screen and printing copies for people.

    IBM Thinkpad A31p - This is the famous "three-spindle" engineering laptop with 1600x1200 IPS display. At one point, it had a dual boot setup with XP and Linux, but now it's just XP. Still works.

    IBM Thinkpad X41 - This is a "Frankenpad" with a X41T MB in a plain X41 case. The original X41 MB was dead, and all the replacements available were actually X41T tablet MBs. I may have put Zorin Linux on this one. Still works.

    Ohio Scientific C2-OEM - This is not the triple-CPU model they made (C3), this only has the 6502 processor. No hard drive, just dual 8" floppies. I ported the Adventure game onto this. It does not do graphics, only text IO to a dumb terminal. I have the original manuals and disks, as well as system disks I have patched and added programs to. I believe this has 48K Ram. I wrote a printer driver overlay for the OS so it could talk to a NEC Spinwriter. This is also a rather heavy system.

    Synertek Systems Sym-1 - I used to work at Synertek, so I got one of these cheap. I made a case for it that also has the Synertek KTM2-80 kb-terminal board. It also has an EPROM programmer for 2716 type Eproms, which the system can use.

    Apple Macintosh G3 "blue and white" - This is an early G3 with what they called the "heartbreak" MB. It supports IDE hard drives, but above a certain size, it fails to read the drive. I added a generic IDE controller to it, which is the usual fix for this problem. I only got this so my daughter could learn Mac stuff before college.

    Signetics Instructor 50 - This was supposed to be a teaching aid for programmers to popularize the Signetics line of CPUs. The strategy didn't work. I was given this as a gift(?).

  2. #2


    So, is it really bad form to respond to your own posts here?

    I actually fired up the 3270 AT/GX the other day. I knew it would need a new CMOS battery, but that was easy. It's not a coin cell like later PCs. It had a Tadiran 6V Lithium with a pigtail that connected to the MB. I replaced this with a 2CR5 photo battery. I just soldered the old pigtail onto the contacts of the 2CR5 and attached the battery to the inside of the case with Velcro, just like the original.

    A moment of panic did set in when it would not boot from the original 3270 AT Diagnostics disk. This is the only (standard) way to set the BIOS parameters for the hard drives. It turned out the floppy drive itself was bad. I took a spare from my vast collection of spares and it worked. I checked both hard drives are OK, and inspected all circuit boards for swollen or leaking caps. None found. Last night, I booted Unix on it and ran the Valid GED schematic editor! This was the system's original purpose. I also found some really horrible kid's games on it, and one real treasure, a Spectrum Holobyte version of Tetris!. It's still playable.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Plattsmouth, Nebraska USA
    Blog Entries


    No problem: I've done it once. You've a nice computer. I almost had an AS/400. Too much to handle!
    Rick Ethridge


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