Sunday, June 15, 2014

Leads: Always Follow Them

So I was dragging my feet, pushing things to the back burner and off the stove, getting-around-sometime to replying to an ad on Craigslist for some old UNIX posters.  I eventually made the trip into the city and retrieved them.  They will be photographed and scanned and hopefully reconstructed for sharing online.  Another back-burner project for now.

As it often goes during a rescue run, one arrives at the topic of one's hobbies and the house full of crap one has and why sure I'd be interested in just one more item.  In this instance a relic was mentioned and the nervous chatter went in other directions and thank you for preserving history and I rushed the posters through the rain and into the ccmp-mobile for the slow highway journey home.

Later that night...I thought again about what I had heard.  Huh, well yes that is interesting but I don't recall where it was now, or with whom.  A thank-you email was drafted for the posters and oh yes, about that other thing...

The reply came quickly and I was informed that indeed, it needed a new home and soon.  So another journey began and another nervous, tangential conversation and the car is packed again and heading home.  Friends are called to help unload and examine the contents.  Research begins, photos taken.  And we arrive here, at the blog posting and photo gallery and hey look what I got:

Not much to look at but it's a Sun-1/150, or was.  The first (or second?  Was the 1/100 first?) product from Sun Microsystems, circa 1982.  There is much investigation to be done yet.  I was told that it, like nearly all Sun-1 series machines, was upgraded with a Sun-2 CPU board, making it a Sun-1/150U, in their nomenclature.  However, the ID plate shows this instead:

The model appears to be "RM-CC" but I can't turn up anything with those letters.  It could be a new badge applied after the refurb/upgrade or it could be an early model name, used before "1/150."  The serial number suggests it is an early production model but I have no idea how many Sun-1 machines were made or if the 1/100 desktop and 1/150 rack system shared serial numbering or not.

Also included (and viewable in the main picture gallery) were the Sun Workstation CRT, the Sun-1 keyboard and mouse and a Fujitsu M2284K 160MB SMD hard drive.  That would be the dead weight at the bottom of the rack with the cool transparent case.

The system was originally sold to the University of Chicago, who were an early, if not the first, purchasers of Sun computers.  Maybe it's one of these?

Oh yeah, and there was also a PDP 11/34 and RK05 drive (and NIB pack) in the deal.  Not bad for an afterthought.

So far, the CRT appears to be non-op.  It hums a bit and there is static present on the CRT glass (as in crackling when you touch it) but I see no light from it.  The Sun-1 powers on and the CPU board displays a pattern on its status LEDs.  I pulled out the color card, thinking it may re-enable the mono video on the CPU board but either that did not happen or the monitor is indeed dead.  I will haul out a serial term and a color monitor with correct BNC adapter (R/G/B/Sync) soon and test again.

I'll do another post when I have the cards inventoried and, with luck, some more in on this guy's origins.


Carl Soffronoff said...

An early Sun employee who might be able to help you is Mike Persichetty. I've lost track of him, but he might show up on LinkedIn or part of Sun Alumni Yahoo group. Mike was a double digit employee who was in Sun Customer Service. I believe he may have worked in Ops before going to Sun Service. Mike was the goto guy when I wanted to know about early Sun products.

I joined Sun in late July '84 as the Senior Test Engineer for the deskside and server manufacturing production line. When I joined, the Sun-2/120 had just been introduced to Ops on the 1st floor of MTV01. The last product units for the Sun-1/100 desktop units were just coming out of Systems Test in July and early August.

It's my perception the backplane for the Sun-1/150 was Multibus-II. That would have been compatible with the Sun-2/120 system boards (CPU, Memory and I/O) design by Andy B.

Howard Lee had a team of engineers who scrubbed Andy's original Sun-2 system board designs with derated power and timing considerations. That version was called Sun-2/120' (prime).

Hamid Kohanfars, who worked for Jon Garman in MTV01-A (aka The Cave) put together the Systems Integration and Test group in October 1985. I transferred into his group in early November 1985.

The first project Hamid's team (Kirk DeHaan, Eric Luiggi, Massoud Hadjimohamadi, Dennis Henderson and me) worked on was release of the Sun-2/170 server box in a Sun-engineered rack solution. The Sun-2/170 (same multibus-based boards with more expansion boards for integrating I/O options) replaced the Sun-1/150, which was only offered as a box for the end user or an OEM to integrate into their own rack. The Sun-2/170 supported 1/2" reel tape, two Hitachi Eagle 380 12" SMD disk drives and a 16 port RS-232 Mux option.

CS, Sun employee #481 (07/30/1984 - 01/21/2009)

Mas said...

Hi, I knew Mike Persichetty while I was at Sun Service, and so he shows up in my LinkedIn. According to that, Mike is at Oracle. I have no doubt that if any one knows anything about this, Mike will. Also if you can dig up an old Sun Field Engineer's Handbook, that probably will have some info as well.

Mas Nishimura

Jason said...

Received an email from Mike P. today. Thanks Carl and Mas!