Archive for the ‘hardware’ Category

koko: sustaining Dell UNIX

Monday, July 1st, 2019

“Genghis Khan and his brother Don
Could not keep on keepin’ on”
(1971) “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” – Bob Dylan

[update December 2020: Dell Unix on 86Box “Today let me present Dell Unix more properly, with 1024×768, 256 colors video and proper networking using emulated VGA and NIC.”]

Dell SVR4 User Guide

Dell SVR4 User Guide

Dell UNIX originally ran on hardware from almost 30 years ago, with almost all peripherals dependent on the (now long defunct) ISA bus. Though such hardware is still available on eBay, from recyclers and others, the door is closing on sustaining Dell UNIX on bare metal. Thanks to Antoni Sawicki’s Qemu/Bochs & Virtual Box efforts, perpetuating Dell Unix on virtual machines is much more practical. However, SLIP will never cut it for network access when even 10BaseT seems painfully slow. For several years I’ve been intending to try to get an Ethernet driver for a card supported by Virtual Box emulation, probably an AMD Am79c970. (more…)

1992 JAWS demo for Stewart Cheifet

Friday, May 17th, 2019

A long time ago (early 1992?) in some forgotten place (San Mateo?) someone who used to look like me…

(I probably have on VHS somewhere, but found this at

Thinking the i486 could do everything may have been a bit short sighted?


a plug for TUHS (just sayin…)

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018
Some days has nothing at all.
Some days is lost in tangential nonsense.
Some days, like today, Ken Thompson writes in memoriam of Joe Ossanna, and Eric Allman writes about how sendmail is so complex because it had to deal with so many obtuse addressing schemes, all the while in the limitations of 16 bit machines, and details a tribute to Ossanna’s troff: “A master work of design, and blissfully complete documentation (even if a bit obscure to the newbie).”
Just sayin…

Let’s start at the very beginning… 801, ROMP, RT/PC, AIX versions

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

“A very good place to start” – Oscar Hammerstein II

IBM 801 Building ca. 1975

Late last year I became aware of “The Unix Heritage Society”, a fascinating archive and mailing list on UNIX history (and often, tangential topics). Even Ken Thompson occasionally contributes.

There have been various TUHS discussions of AIX in the 1980s, the RT/PC, etc. Often I want to say, “no, that’s not how it was, or, at least, not how it seemed to me when I was in the middle of things”, but I’ve avoided joining those discussions.

Since I don’t know of a good history of AIX, nor the associated hardware projects prior to the RS/6000, this is my attempt to say what I can to clarify and fill in the lesser known history. (Peter Salus’ A Quarter Century of Unix is a comprehensive reference, but barely mentions AIX. The RT book is a snapshot at the time of the first release and only incidentally covers history. AIX Turns 20 reflects on the first two decades.1)

koko: “reel audio”

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

“Genghis Khan and his brother Don
Could not keep on keepin’ on”
(1971) “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” – Bob Dylan

wollensakFor many years, starting in high school, one of my ambitions was to make good recordings of live music. Until I could afford and justify the cost of good machines, I progressed through a series of mediocre, but less expensive reel to reel recorders, starting with a Wollensak similar to the photo at left. (more…)