Passéism

Introduction

I love old Sun equipment and software and continually try to expand my modest collection. I would love to get a hold of Sun 2/50, and if possible a big deskside machine such as a Sun 2/120 or Sun 3/260 as well.

Here follows a short introduction to my current machines; click on links to get more details, documentation, and other stuff I have gathered for these wonderful beasts.

If someone is getting bored with their old machine and wants to help out my collection, I’m especially looking for (yeah, I know some of these are pipe-dreams, but well, one can dream, right?):

  • Sun 100U
  • Sun 150U
  • Sun 2/120
  • Sun 2/170
  • Sun 2/50
  • Sun 3/80
  • Sun 3/110
  • Sun 4/110
  • Sun 4/310
  • Sun 4/330
  • Sun 4/40 (Sparcstation IPC)
  • Sun 4/60 (Sparcstation 1)
  • Sun 4/65 (Sparcstation 1+)

Classic Suns

Sun 2/120

(The dream is alive!)

Sun 3/60

Currently, my two and only specimens of Sun’s third generation of workstations are my Sun 3/60s. The Sun-3s were based on the Motorola 68020 processor, with the 3/60 running at 20MHz in a wide desktop Pizza box.

Both of mine have got the CG4 frame buffers, connected via the P4 socket to the main system board; others had a mono BW2 integrated directly on the board. The BW2 is actually a digital interface but uses ECL levels which requires a special monitor. Both bought off ebay for probably a lot more than their true worth, but these are getting to be so rarely available that I felt I had no choice but to snag them. I will try to have one set up with SunOS 3.2 (I’m not actually sure whether that’s supported) and the other with SunOS3.5 (unofficially patched for Y2K compliance.) Sun supported the 3/60 up until SunOS 4.1.1U1 but my goal is to run as many different SunOS versions as possible so I’m keeping these on as early SunOS 3 versions as possible.

Currently they each have 12MiB of memory but I plan on getting another 24MiB to fully populate them both. I have a Sun 511 external enclosure with an Archive Corp. Scorpion 3495C QIC-24 tape drive and a Micropolis 155MB hard drive that can connect to either machine via SCSI if I want local storage.

Sparcstation 1+ (Sun 4/65)

TBD

Sparcstation 2 (Sun 4/75)

I recently (November 2014) bought this poor bastard on ebay for £10. The pictures didn’t really reveal in just how bad shape it is in, covered in dirt and smelt, well frankly, godawful. I scrubbed it down pretty good and fabreezed the heck out of it, but it still kind of makes me sick. It contains a floppy drive, some memory (didn’t inventory yet) and a CG3 frame buffer. I still haven’t actually tried to power it on, and I’m actually seriously consider just scrapping it since it’s in even worse shape than my Sparcstation 20s…

2016-04-26: Applying power made sparks and smoke shoot out of the motherboard and/or power supply, so that’s that…

Sparcstation IPX (Sun 4/50)

Basically a lunch box version of the Sparcstation 2, a Weitek SPARC processor running at 40MHz made this a very attractive little machine in its time. This was my very first own Sparcstation, or even first any Sun equipment. I bought this in the late 90s. Running SunOS 4.1.4 on an internal 450MB hard drive with 16MiB of memory (huh, weird, I seem to remember upgrading this to 64MiB, but maybe I sold off those memories?)

Sparcstation LX

TBD

Sparcstation 10

Using a very similar pizzabox enclosure to the Sparcstation 2, the Sparcstation 10 introduces multiprocessors to the desktop range. The Sparcstation 10 has two MBus slots to which two dual MBus cards can be attached for up to to four SPARC processors, although mine has only two single 50MHz SuperSPARCs (SM51) and 128MiB memory. Running Solaris 2.3 (SunOS 5.3) on an internal hard drive. I also have a non-functional repairs/parts system board.

Sparcstation 4

A gift from my university computer club for helping them sort out workable hardware. A 1MiB VSIMM expansion for the internal frame buffer, and running Solaris 2.4 (SunOS 5.4) on an internal 9GB hard drive, with maxxed out 160MiB memory.

Sparcstation 5

Also a gift from my university computer club. It’s the 110MHz version, with 160MiB of memory running Solaris 2.5.1 (SunOS 5.5.1) on an internal 9GB hard drive. Has problem with the internal ethernet port so I’ve popped in a quad-ethernet SBUS card for good measure.

Sparcstation 20

Sun’s replacement/upgrade of the Sparcstation 10, the Sparcstation 20 uses the same “Aurora” chassis as the Sparcstation 5, but allow for up to four CPUs in two MBus slots, higher clocks than Sparcstation 10 thanks to better cooling. Two SM81 SuperSPARC processors clocked at 85MHz and 128MiB of memory, running SunOS 5.6 (Solaris 2.6.) There are higher clocked HyperSPARC cards from Ross, as high as 200MHz, but I’ve heard that they are not necessarily much faster than the SuperSPARCs (a bit warmer though I should suspect!)

Unfortunately mine looks like it’s been through hell; the metal parts on the inside of the chassis have quite a bit of corrosion, and the left plastic front piece is missing, exposing the internal speaker.

I have a spare/repair Sparcstation 20 as well, in pretty much the same condition, except it’s not even working.

Sun Ultra 5

The desktop model of the Ultra 10. Identical system boards between the two but because of the smaller chassis, the Ultra 5 can’t be expanded as well, but I’ve managed to set up two IDE hard drives. Now I have switched system boards between the Ultra 5 and 10 because the Ultra 10 board failed. So this is currently non-functional but it still has 512MiB (maximum on the Ultra 5 due to height limitation preventing the taller RAM modules to be used.)

Sun Ultra 10

A gift from work; they were throwing away old equipment. Unfortunately, I only managed to rescue one of three Ultra 10s from the garbage disposal. The original system board died, so I have swapped the board from my Ultra 5 with this and brought it back to life. It is stuffed with 1024MiB of RAM (maximum for the Ultra 10) and has two SCSI cards: one Sun 375-0097 single ultra wide SCSI card that came with it from work. I plan to use this to connect an external tape drive. And then I have fitted a Sun 375-0005 dual ultra wide SCSI card that handles two 73GB SCSI drives. The Ultra 5 and Ultra 10 were ridiculed when released because Sun only included IDE, and kind of broken implementation at that, so I thought it’d be nice to use regular SCSI since this is in fact the master server for all my classic suns, providing NIS, NFS, and booting of diskless clients. I use dual SCSI with two drives to enable RAID1 via disksuite. I’ve come to love RAID1 and use it on all my workstations when possible. The Ultra 10 is running Solaris 7.

Peripherals

Sun GDM20E20 20″ monitor

A huge and heavy Sun CRT color monitor I received for free from my computer club.

Sun 511

Belonging to the sun-2 generation, this large external SCSI enclosure housing a 5.25″ 155MB hard drive and a QIC-24 tape drive and was my oldest piece of Sun hardware until I got bits and pieces of a Sun 2/120.

Sun 411

A good companion to the Sparcstation lunchboxes, this external SCSI enclosure holds a Quantum Prodrive 210S 50-pin SCSI drive.

Sun Type 2 mouse

Very fortunately, I am now in possession of no less than three of the old black-and-white sun-2 mice. Only missing the wacky sun-2 keyboard to go along with them. More details soon.

Sun Type 3 Keyboard + mouse

Originally, I only had one sun-3 keyboard with the DSUB-connector and one sun-3 mouse with the RJ-connector, but I found another pair, a bit more yellowed by age but fully functional, so I can now use my two Sun 3-60s simultaneously.

Sun Type 5 Keyboards + mice

I don’t actually remember where I got two of these from, maybe from the computer club? The third was included with a Sparcstation 20. One Swedish Type 5 keyboard and two US type 5. One type 4 mouse and two type 5.

Other Suns

Besides old fun Sun hardware, I also have some “newish” Sun machines. I probably won’t be getting any more of these, especially nothing to do with Oracle (*barf*!)

Sun Blade 2000

A gift from work, a heavy, and I mean heavy, machine. Can take dual UltraSparc IIIs up to 1040MHz; mine has only a single 900MHz CPU (because I managed to break the other one!) 512MiB of memory and a 136GB FC-AL harddrive. Running SunOS 5.10 (Solaris 10.) I have tried ordering 4GiB of memory because 512MiB is almost not cutting it (the Solaris 10 graphical installer can’t run!) but my order was canceled. Will try again sometime soon…

Sun Fire T1000

32 threads, 32GiB RAM, 320GB 2.5 SAS hard drive. Bought on ebay for $89 basically so I could test some software for Solaris 10 SPARC. Now set up to run SunOS 5.11 (Solaris 11.) Ear protection is mandatory when this beast is running…

Other classic computers

Besides my interest in old Suns, I kind of like a lot of older computers, but I don’t really have any kind of collection (yet!) I would love me a PDP-11/70 (although space would be lacking).

SEL 32/27

I don’t actually have this one yet, but I have an offer for this refrigerator-sized minicomputer, free if I pick it up or it will be destructed, but I’m ambivalent. It’s not well known, like a PDP, which is both cool and bad, because it will be difficult to maintain and get software for (although Gould actually still supports it!) It doesn’t run UNIX (although I guess a pretty cool project would be to port UNIX V7 to it!) and it’s actually not a classic mini; it’s intended for real-time applications with an RT-OS called MPX-32. But it does come with a huge 9-track tape machine, two VT420 terminals, and an emulator for the SMD harddrives. Oh, and it has a discrete wire-wrapped CPU (three boards!), like a proper minicomputer.

Update: this one has been junked…

DEC VAXStation 3100 M38

Been wanting a VAX/VMS system for a long time so I was happy when I scored this one. I hope to install VMS 5.4 on the 209MB RZ24-E hard drive, but I’m not actually sure how…

Classic personal computers

Besides classic workstations and minicomputer, I also have a small collection of classic personal computers.

Commodore 64

The classic 8-bit home computer, I have three Commodore 64s. One from my youth and two that I received much later, as part of a deal together with an Amiga 500.

Amiga 500

My second computer was the Amiga 500. This is not that particular machine because wayback when, I sold the original to finance a purchase of an Amiga 1200. This one I received as part of a deal together with the two breadbox C64s. I’ve added a GVP 325MiB SCSI harddrive and 8MiB of fastmem. The slowmem 512KiB expansion had a leaky battery so it’s been temporarily retired until I can repair it. The machine also has a problem reading floppies unfortunately. I have acquired a revision 5 motherboard (originally Kickstart 1.2, now upgraded with Kickstart 1.3) that I may swap with this machine. Hopefully floppy drive reading should be back to working order then.

Amiga 1200

I have two 1200 machines, neither of which are exactly my original, because its motherboard broke down and was declared “unrepairable” by technicians. I eventually ended up throwing the motherboard away, but I kept the chassis, the ROM chips, floppy drive, internal IDE 120MiB harddrive and keyboard. Much later I bought a broken A1200 motherboard off ebay and with a little bit of care I nursed it back to life and transplanted it into my original chassis. Runs the original AmigaOS 3.0 ROMs.

My second A1200, of which I only have the motherboard, also bought off ebay and also repaired by me. My boss (who used to be an Amiga freak / demo scener) gave me an Apollo 1240 accelerator board. I want to desolder the 68040, replace it with a ZIF-socket, and upgrade it with a 68060 CPU. Desoldering the 68040 is a chore though, so it’s a long process in the making. When/if it’s finished, I will put the A1200 board in a tower-case and have some fun.

Misc vintage hardware

IBM 6360

I’ve got two of these huge 8″ floppy disk drives that I’m hopefully going to use for some retro project.

Old x86 computers

I’ve realized that time has come to document my older x86-based computers as well.

After my Amiga 1200 gave up its ghost, it was time to face the fact that x86 was the only real option. A friend of mine had already made the transition a few years earlier to a 486DX computer. I distinctly remember that my first x86 was NOT an Intel but an AMD, and I would like to think it was the AMD K5 100MHz, but it is long gone so I’m not 100% sure.

I did find a box for an Asus P5A Super Socket 7 motherboard when I was rummaging through my storage locker yesterday, looking for something else. In fact, that’s what triggered me to write this section. But is this the board that was used with the AMD K5? I would have expected a socket 5 board instead. I do have a clear memory that the system was equipped with 32MiB of RAM and that it was a new kind of RAM, which I think would have been SDRAM as opposed to EDO, which the P5A can accommodate. The first graphics card was, as I clearly remember, a Matrox Mystique. VRAM unknown but probably 2MiB. As I recall, it wasn’t that great…But later on, a year or two, it was coupled with an Orchid Righteous 3D, a 3DFX Voodoo 1 card that I still have in possession.

But something just doesn’t add upp with the P5A; it just seems too late. The P5A was released in 1998 and I definitely had my first x86 PC earlier than that, probably acquired in 1996. So the conclusion must be that I bought the P5A and probably an AMD K6 later, in 1998 or 1999. But I have absolutely no recollection of this at all! And it’s unknown what motherboard was used with the AMD K5, but a guess would be an Asus board since I favored them at the time (and still do). So an Asus socket 5 board that could take SDRAM is a likely bet, if such existed.

The next PC I owned (ignoring the P5A since I can’t remember it) was also an AMD-based machine and it’s still in my possession: an MSI K7T Pro2 motherboard with an AMD Thunderbird processor. It’s currently equipped with 192MiB of RAM (3x 64MiB) but probably did not carry this much initially. Unknown what graphics card I used, not the Voodoo 1 at least. This was probably acquired in 2000 or 2001, which really makes it tight to fit in the P5A/K6 in the timeline; I don’t change machines that often!

The machine after that was also AMD-based (see a trend? Do I have something against Intel?) and also a machine still in my possession. The motherboard is an Asus A8N-SLI with an AMD 3000+ processor. Currently equipped with 2GiB of DIMM RAM, but definitely not this much originally. A simple Nvidia fanless GPU is currently installed, but that’s just so that the machine will boot headless, because after I upgraded, I used this machine as my internet gateway for some time. Currently OpenBSD 4.6 is installed on a 164GB hard drive.

After this my Intel boycott ended and I have a bunch of Core2-based systems, the first one being a Q6600-based, as my main machine for many years, but this is not yet interesting to write about…

Recently I picked up a Pentium II + motherboard + SDRAM and a bunch of AGP/PCI GPUs. Will write more about them later after I’ve had time to work a bit with them.