Name that computer?

15 pts.
Warning: this may be historic (1970's, PDP-11, etc.) or might be fictional. Don't loose sleep over this (although you might could get some additional insight around 9pm EST;-) And please don't flame me either. Minicomputer, comparable phyiscal size to PDP-11 appears to be two CPU units 3-5 feet height, but one may be open reel tape punch cards use unknown (not seen) appears to be controlled by terminal (no external drives noticable) time referenced predates MS-DOS ("late 1970s") system appears to have been continuously running since that time (maintenance, degradation, upgrades, and canabilization uknown) reference to a university in Michigan (refers to persons, not where system was developed or used) system command prompt is ">:" system accepts numeric 1 and 2 digit commands commands are separated by a space on single line other commands and syntax presently unknown; keyboard appears to have standard english alphabet, function keys unknown at this time system apparently used for SCADA type of functional control(s) or monitoring physical environment- cooling, dehumidification appears to be intact, but likely higher than optimal temperature and humidity; increased magnetic fields in area (assumed to be at least partially natural); radioactivity unknown but suspected. If non-fictional, any idea on type, function, design, and capabilities? Ideas on the numeric commands?

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Gosh! Ok, I’m open to speculation – since it’s clear that you’re inviting such things….

Could it be an early Data General machine?

By way of identification, are all of the disk drive cables a bundle of twisted pair cables in a ribbon, which look kind of like a newer SCSI cable, but larger?

What is the color(s) of the box?


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  • MadDogDing
    Trying to figure out what the computer is on the TV show, "Lost", aren't you? Very cute. Good luck.
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  • Dalejanus
    IBM made the Series 1 that was often used to control environment. But almost any computer made in those days or current days has the manufacturer's name on it somewhere, either inside or outside.
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  • Lewp01
    Well, good question....size and configuration of the case and keyboard suggests that it is an Apple II or clone of that. However, hooking that up to an IBM 9 track tape drive as is pictured seems a little far fetched for that era. My question is, how much coating could be left on the tape in the tape drive after all this time of spinning back and forth? Also, does anyone ever load a new tape? Paul
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  • ItDefPat1
    Not an Apple. Haven't had a close enough look at the devices to tell wiring and boards. The cabinets are white-ish (beige? taupe? bone? putty?). Viability of the tapes in the system is unknown. However, an celluloid-based movie film from the same time has survived (in the same facility) and is largely playable.
    15 pointsBadges:
  • BlueKnight
    From the description, it sounds like it could be an early DEC machine or something along the HP 2000 line (which was ~5 feet high) but earlier. From the size estimation it can't possibly be an Apple because Apples are much smaller than 3-5 feet tall. It doesn't sound like a Data General, at least the Nova, unless you had it mounted in a rack, but then I don't remember it running DOS. I'm wondering if it could be something along the lines of maybe a Four-Phase Systems machine (ran a Motorola CPU)... could it be an old Nixdorf? Having no personal experience on either of those, I don't know. Are there any old Control Data Corp. (CDC) machines that might be candidates? The really puzzling part of this is the mention of a two-character command from a DOS prompt. I suspect those would be application commands on a DOS system rather than OS commands. Is there a photo on the internet we can take a look at? That would be very helpful.
    10 pointsBadges:
  • Paul144hart
    Shot in the dark: This has the same description of Perkin Elmer series 32 computers. I used these about the same time (they went out of production ~1980.) Typically had large drive packs at the bottom. If I remember, they had a small label at the top left with the model number. Anyway, these were derived from the Interdata series that Perkin Elmer bought. -Paul
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