Digital Computers


Reynolds & Reynolds VimNet

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.


Reynolds & Reynolds VimNet VimNet 9000 Industrial Computer
Synertek Systems Corp. SYM-1

The SYM-1 is a single-board computer originally developed as a 6502 microprocessor evaluation board. The SYM-1 is an enhanced clone of the official MOS KIM-1 evaluation board, adding true RS232 and other improvements. The SYM-1 also shares the same I/O connectors as the Rockwell AIM-65, another 6502 evaluation system.

SYM-1 Reference Manual (PDF)
SYM-1 BASIC Reference Manual (PDF)


Synertek Systems Corp. SYM-1 Single Board Computer
Apple Macintosh 128K

The Macintosh 128k, released in 1984, was the first device in Apple's line of 'Macintosh' personal computer products.The Macintosh 128k is widely considered to be the first commercially successful personal computer with a graphical user interface... most competing machines of the time were controlled by text commands. The heart of the machine was a Motorola 68000 CPU running at 7.8MHz, which was connected to 128k of onboard RAM. Unfortunately, despite being very easy to use, the Macintosh 128K was pretty terrible at preforming normal computer functions. The lack of an internal hard drive, combined with only a single floppy drive that required an operating system disk at boot, left no room to store applications. 128k of memory was far to small for a machine expected to display full screen graphics with no mass storage, and frequent disk swapping was the norm for the Macintosh user. Despite these limitations the Macintosh 128k sold well, selling 70,000 units within it's first 6 months of production.

Apple alleviated the Macintosh's RAM and drive problem somewhat by releasing an upgraded version of the Macintosh with more RAM, the Macintosh 512K, less than a year later, but the Macintosh would not become a truly useful device until the release of the Macintosh Plus in 1986. The Macintosh Plus included a SCSI port, which allowed for the use of hard disk storage the Macintosh desperately needed.


Apple Macintosh 128K
Apple Macintosh Plus

The Macintosh Plus was released in 1986, shortly after Steve Jobs , one of the founders of Apple Computer, was exiled from the company due to 'questionable design views'. Steve Jobs had saddled the original Macintosh 128 with a tiny amount of ram and no hard drive; he felt that the sound of a hard drive spinning would detract from the overall ascetics of the machine. As an end result, the original Macintosh, while being easy to use and quite attractive in appearance compared to it's competitors, was not very useful as a computer. The Plus was a stopgap attempt to rectify the situation, it had one megabyte of ram, compared to the original Macintosh's 128 kilobytes of ram; a huge amount of memory for the time. In fact, the Plus was one of the few computers of the era that had more ram than mass storage; the Plus still had no hard drive, only a single 800K floppy drive was available for secondary storage. Despite this, it was the first Mac that was actually usable, and vast quantities of them were made and sold.


Apple Macintosh Plus Personal Computer
Apple Macintosh SE

The Apple Macintosh SE was released in March of 1987 as a successor to the Macintosh Plus. Like the Plus, the SE comes stock with one megabyte of RAM, but could be expanded up to a maximum of four megabytes by replacing some or all of the 256K SIMM modules with 1 megabyte SIMM's. The memory upgrade system was particularly painful, RAM could only be upgraded to four configurations, 1 megabyte, 2 megabytes, 2.5 megabytes, and 4 megabytes. To select which memory configuration you have installed, a resistor must be desoldered from the motherboard and moved to another location. The SE does a passable job of eliminating the Mac Plus's greatest flaw, the lack of secondary storage. Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple at the time of the original Macintoshes release, forbade the inclusion of an internal hard drive because he did not like the noise that the spinning drive platters made. The SE was the first Macintosh to break this decree, and for the first time Macintosh users could actually get a hard drive inside their computer instead of resorting to a clunky add-on like the HD 20. The SE also brought another welcome addition to the Macintosh world, expansion card slots. Unlike the Plus, the SE has a single PDS slot that allows the user to install useful addons like a network card or an interface for an external monitor.

Unlike the Plus, the SE does not use rare and pricey 4 pin keyboards. The SE was the first compact Mac to include an ADB, the Apple communication standard that was used for keyboard and mouse connections from 1987 to 1998. In fact, the SE is arguably the first Mac ever to include an ADB port, the only other contender for that title is the Mac II, which was also released in March of 1987. The Mac II has a gestalt ID of 6, which is one digit higher than the SE's gestalt ID of 5, suggesting that the SE is the earlier machine. Regardless, the inclusion of ADB on the SE is nothing but a good thing for those who wish to actually use the computer. Unlike the hard to find 4 pin keyboard, ADB keyboards were manufactured in great numbers, and as such can still be bought in huge quantities for very reasonable prices.


Apple Macintosh SE Personal Computer
GRiD PalmPAD 2351

The GRiD PalmPAD 2351 is a very early tablet computer that was designed for use by nurses and other people that needed to have a computer strapped to their arm at all times. The PalmPAD 2351 was manufactured in 1991, a full two years before the Apple Newton was released. The 2351 has no hard drive; a modified version of DOS is stored on a ROM, which permits it to boot without any configuration. The 2351 also has 2.5MB of battery-backed RAM, and a PC card slot allows the addition of hard drive space by means of flash memory PC cards.


GRiD PalmPAD 2351 Tablet Computer

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