Reynolds & Reynolds VimNet 
Written by AnubisTTP on 2006-11-29  

Description

Devices included in this entry:

Reynolds & Reynolds VimNet 9000 computer (pictured in thumbnail)
Reynolds & Reynolds TC-1000 smart terminal (pictured in thumbnail)


The VimNet 9000 is a specialized PDP-11 derivative minicomputer designed for auto dealerships. The system is built upon a Motorola 68020 microprocessor running at 16 MHz and is equipped with 4MB of RAM. A tape drive and bulky plexiglass hard drive provide secondary storage. The hard drives in these devices were originally only 140 MB, but the drive in this particular unit is marked with a sticker stating that it was serviced in 1991, suggesting a possible upgrade. This system was built sometime between 1979 and 1981.

The most noteworthy feature of the VimNet is that it is gigantic. The VimNet server has connections for up to eight TC-1000 terminals. Even in the modest configuration shown here, with only a single Reynolds & Reynolds TC-1000 smart terminal, the combined weight of the entire system is at least 45 kg. It boggles the mind to think of an era when a car dealership would require such computing infrastructure.

More

The inside of the TC-1000 smart terminal is fairly pedestrian. There is the tiny nine inch screen, two disk drives, and a cage of cards to give the terminal its "smarts". One of the cards has a modem add-on with about fifty miles of four conductor phone cord attached, which suggests that the unit has limited functionality as a stand-alone computer system. There is also a clunky square wave speaker located next to the keyboard, so that the terminal can make various hideous square wave tones at you whenever you hit a wrong key. The hardware test software that came with the machine is particularly obnoxious, during the memory test it displays a progress bar made up entirely of ASCII "m" characters while beeping loudly every two seconds. It leaves onlookers with the vague impression that your computer is going to explode at any second.

The Vimnet server is somewhat more interesting inside. The mainboard and RAM boards are mounted in an aluminum tray in the upper half of the machine. The tray is on pivots so that it can be swung upward for access to the tape drive and hard drive. The hard drive is a monster, it has a clear plexiglass case and the platters are about ten inches in diameter. The front of the machine is nondescript, with only a single power button and the slot for the tape drive.

Its also worth noting that the front is fastened with quick release ball and socket connectors. I imagine this was so the front panel could be easily swapped for different styles of machines, ReyZon probably had an entire line of PDP 11's that were specialized for different industries.


Reynolds & Reynolds VimNet 9000 server and TC-1000 smart terminal.

TC-1000, cover removed.

VimNet 9000 server, cover removed.

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