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Thread: Ridiculous PDP(11?)/Punchcard Collection West Coast Sale Approaching

  1. #1

    Default Ridiculous PDP(11?)/Punchcard Collection West Coast Sale Approaching

    Hello all,

    First, the unfortunate news; my uncle had a stroke in January and it has left him in a state where his future footprint will be much smaller, and as such we are in the process of transitioning what is in essence his life into real and actual retirement.

    How we got here: My uncle was an electrical engineer for a number of oilfields and used to visit computers to process geophysical work. He figured he could make a living processing data himself and this led towards his purchase of a PDP-11 (or so) around 1985 which then became the central core of his business here in Tucson, Arizona. Where the geophysical work started dropping off, this business evolved into a rather heavy commercial mailing business that thrived on election mailing, fundraisers, and seasonal catalogs amongst other projects. In short, it was nothing you or I wanted to receive, but something someone was willing to spend anywhere from $0.05 up to $0.15 a piece to end up in your mail box.

    Next, the unfortunate state of the Union: The computer ran almost nonstop up until 2012, and at that time my uncle put his focus on developing a proper crossover bridge between his tapes and his PCs so that he could access that data without using the mainframe, and from what I understand, he had to rewrite code to make the software function on the new system. He was also actively working on resurrecting the mainframe but this never happened - the problem was either chips or caps, he usually spoke about caps.

    Current Status: I am at present inventorying and cataloging the entire collection. We have a court appointed conservator at this point and my cousin his daughter has a proactive approach to taking the initiative when it comes to dealing with what should have been dealt with ten years ago. No one in our family has any interest in running or maintaining this mainframe and to be quite honest, the collection is taking up a sizeable chunk of real estate.

    What is there? For starters, there is the primary mainframe that takes up half of the two car garage, and then I spotted no less than twice again this much hardware in the storage RV garage my uncle built in the front yard (but he never bought an RV!) that may very well be spare parts or additional peripherals. There is also no less than three cages of Mag tapes though I suspect these may have failed due to age and storage. I do know when I put them into that storage facility, there were a couple tapes in the collection from the original Pioneer mission when it passed the Moon. There is then the aforementioned punch card table and about four cages of punch cards, most of the cards being used and then packed in boxes after the projects were finished. There are roughly half a dozen terminal monitors, though they will likely all need new capacitors. And there are at least four if not five digital line printers too. Finally, there is his trove of reference material in his library, which covers both the PDP-11 and Fortran rather heavily.

    By a conservative estimate I reckon that it would take at minimum a 26' U-Haul truck to move it all.

    At this point my objective here is to facilitate a transfer of these assets that would be mutually beneficial to both the estate and to the recipient(s).

    I will post an inventory as I get it made.

    Ben

  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    1/2" magnetic tape can be very durable--don't dismiss its survival out-of-hand.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    1/2" magnetic tape can be very durable--don't dismiss its survival out-of-hand.
    The knowledge of what those cards and tapes contain is more transient than the media.

  5. #5
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    I've recovered data from mold-infested 1/2" tapes. Don't give up on this stuff.

  6. #6

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    Hello all,

    I haven't forgotten about this, I've simply been buried by things between work and such.

    At this point I have been able to identify 6 Cabinets overall various states of repair. The unit in the house was running up until 2013 and then it quit. He has a drive out on the table, but not to the machine, so I suppose maybe he was going after the drive or such.

    I was able to scribble down some data where I could see it.

    The drive on the table is a Kennedy Model 9400 Tri Density Tape System P/N 092-9400-004

    We then continue to the primary unit.

    In Cabinet 1 (w/key) I was able to make out the following components:
    HGMC001: Wheeled Single Rack Cabinet
    HGMC001001 MK11CY?(No Data plates)
    HGMC001002 MK11CY=>CA
    HGMC001003 9400 Disk Controller Controller 9410-7101 Config 9432-7010 CPU 9420-7214 EMU 9440-7002 DRIVE INTF 9450-7100
    HGMC001004 P/N H7420A-MAR Power Supply
    HGMC001005 BA11-AJ As Built FK Current

    In Cabinet 2 (w/ key) we have the following
    HGMC002: Wheeled Single Rack Cabinet
    HGMC002001 Kennedy Model 9401 Tri Density Tape System P/N 092-9401-002
    HGMC002002 BA11-AE As Built FA Current Model 11/45AA
    HGMC002003 H7420A Power Supply
    HGMC002004 Junction Box (For Lack of better words; lots of power plug-ins)

    Cabinet Number Three
    HGMC003: Wheeled Single Rack Cabinet
    HGMC003001 Kennedy Model 9300 Tri Density Tape System P/N 192-9300-028

    In the house garage there are two DEC line printers and one DECWriter.

    We then move to the Storage RV Garage where we have the following:

    Cabinet Four: w/Key
    SMC003: Wheeled Single Rack Cabinet
    SMC003001 MK11-CY
    SMC003002 PCD5 PR11
    SMC003003 BA11-AK As Built FK Current
    SMC003004 861-D Power Control

    Cabinet Five
    SMC004 Wheeled DOUBLE RACK CABINENT - Backside LOCKED! No Keys Back/No Keys Unit
    SMC004001 MK-775-11-VA Rev. F H7750 Remote Battery Backup
    SMC004002 MK11 Memory System
    SMC004003 BA11 AH As Built FD Current
    SMC004004 861D Power Control

    There are then two more single rack cabinets that I have not yet been able to get to in order to properly inventory their contents.

    I was able to locate this toggle switch board in another cage elsewhere in the shed.


    There are also 4 of these things just sitting on the shelf...


    About the tapes, I presume most of the data is either uninteresting business data (Mailing business, addresses, that sort of thing) or it is geophysical work which may belong to companies somewhere else. I might put a little effort into locating the disks labeled PIONEER, though, I saw them when I put these things up in this garage back in 2003 or so and my uncle said they had to do with the Pioneer mission passing the moon. Those reels may be the only reels worth any time, though.

    Oh Yeah!! And before I forget...the punch card system...

    The unit is a IBM 29 card puncher, my uncle would go over to the university and use their reader so he never had a reader himself...kind of a "polly" situation...polly…it still has a pile of blank stock in it, all loaded up, like it hasn't changed since the day my uncle closed his main shop, pulled the plug and moved it to storage.

  7. #7

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    I'm still trying to figure out how to edit my posts to go back and add the pictures, but I am unable to at the moment likely due to the age of my account. Eh.

    Putting pictures to points has revealed I need to do a better job of cataloging, recording, and taking pictures while I take this inventory or I will be at it for another lifetime.

    Either way, here's a couple pictures.

    First, the "There's 4 of these sitting on the shelf," those pieces are four System Industries 470 Disk Drives in unknown state or repair, likely good for parts at best.



    Next, the Computer System in the house garage:

    The power supply setup shows there was an attempt at keeping things clean at one point:



    The three cabinets:



    The Decwriter



    Then we head to the Storage RV Garage.

    The single cabinet:



    The Double Cabinet. I'll have to pull it back out for a proper photo op.



    Another single cabinet disk drive



    A second single cabinet disk drive



    Two single cabinets (and two more behind)



    Topside previous two cabinets



    The two rear cabinets (one is nearly empty, second appears to be only parts)





    This bin is likely full of DEC parts



    The IBM 29 Punch Card Machine



    What I have not bothered with at this moment: Terminals. I know of at least 6 terminals here and there about the place, but unfortunately all of them seem to be beyond their service life. One of my Uncle's projects sitting out mid progress was a Capacitor Replacement Project with one of the Terminals, he told me previously that these terminals had capacitors in them that had a shelf life of about 25-30 years and 25-30 years ago he replaced all of the capacitors in all of the terminals...so now, here we are 25-30 years later, the capacitors will need replacement. So we'll presume the terminals need to be rebuilt.

    I said this was a ridiculous collection...have I delivered...yet? There's still a couple more things I know of that are not on here... :P

    Best - and sorry about the sideways pictures, but your forum software insists on overriding my edits that I made within Windows Explorer/ Photo viewer so that they display correctly in my galleries. This problem seems to be becoming more and more of an issue as time moves forward.

  8. Default

    Hi Benny, i'm currently looking for a PDP11/70, I assume your uncles is a 11/45? Some photos would be helpful. Regards.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Benny View Post
    Oh Yeah!! And before I forget...the punch card system...

    The unit is a IBM 29 card puncher, my uncle would go over to the university and use their reader so he never had a reader himself...kind of a "polly" situation...polly…it still has a pile of blank stock in it, all loaded up, like it hasn't changed since the day my uncle closed his main shop, pulled the plug and moved it to storage.
    I'd certainly express interest in the keypunch if I could figure out a way to Pony Express it bit closer to the border. I've been looking for once ever since I got my CR11 card reader setup working.
    = Excellent space heater

  10. #10

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    Benny, where are you located?

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