History of the computers at Bolton Institute
When the move to centralise all the computing at Bolton Institute was in
progress, I always said I'd write it up, mainly about the funnies and
disasters. I never did, so this goes someway to doing that.
When I first started in the Electrical Engineering department, I used to
program BBC model B (6502 based micro) and a Systime 5000 (rebadged PDP11/34)
which had four 4.9 Megabyte disks, two in removable cartridges. Yes that's a
total of 19.6 megabytes online.
There were around 300 accounts on the system, but as time went on, you need
more disk space. This is a picture taken during the upgrade. You can see part
of an old 4.9 MB disk pack bottom right. Left in the foreground is an SMD 67MB
and underneath a Fuji 2332 8" partitioned by hardware into two 67 MB drives.
Behind that is a tape drive sat on top of the old disk units which was used to
copy the data from the old disks. On the right hand side wall you can see the
cabling system, not very sophisticated, but it worked.
It was pretty noisy with the new disks, so a partition was built across the
room, I sat one side, the computer the other.
This is Bob, he's sat upstairs in the Maths and Computing dept. They started
out with a PDP11/34 with 3 RL02 (10 MB) disk packs. Then they bought a Vax
11/750, with a 121 MB (RA80) disk. Bob is sat at the console for the PDP11.
This is a work in progress picture. Pete is on the right, behind him is the
frame for the digital telephone exchange. Denis is watching Neil dragging
cables which have been fed down the lift shaft from the 5th floor to the back
of the Vax, I think this was the point Neil realised that we'd threaded the
cable though a leg of a stool.
The cables from the lift shaft came in along the roof, down the back of the
room and under the false floor. In the foreground is a second Vax 11/750, this
time purchased by the Electrical Engineering department.
This shows the krone frame for the new telephones on the left hand side wall,
the Electrical's 11/750 in the foreground, with a Fujitsu 451 MB 'eagle', and
the Math's departments PDP 11/34 at the back.
Pulling all those cables through meant that little bits fell of the tiles and
messed up that nice new false floor.
This is the rear of the original BASIL, brought down from the 5th floor and
now in its new proud home. A full 8MB of memory, 32 RS232 terminal lines, a
456 MB RA81 and a 121MB RA80.
DISCLAIMER: Errors and Omissions Excepted.