[lug] SGI Onyx 2
jeffrey.haemer at gmail.com
Wed Mar 31 12:29:39 MDT 2010
Oh, one of them *new-fangled* Onyxes. :-)
The name takes me back.
The first, commercial Unix box I worked on -- for all I know, the first
commercial Unix on a microprocessor -- was an "ONYX." It was built around a
Z8000, with little, Z80 I/O bottlenecks, uh, peripheral coprocessors.
An ONYX was a multi-user, developer box, in theory and practice. We had
several developers on them at once, at all times. Each box had 64 kilobytes
of memory. (A kilobyte, for those too young to know, is a milli-meg.) I
think the disks were 10Mb, but might have been 20. Or 5.
No virtual memory yet, either. There was swapping, but every program
actually had to fit entirely in memory while it was running. When we ported
Unix to the PC/XT, for IBM (PC/IX), it felt sooo much bigger. We switched
to those and junked the ONYX boxes. An XT had the same amount of memory,
and still lacked virtual memory, but PC/IX let our programs have 64K each of
I&D (instruction and data) space, so we didn't have to spend as much time
shaving down our programs to make them fit.
Yes, we had ones *and* zeros. :-)
A potential customer (we'd done the Unix port for the ONYX, too) asked my
boss, Ned Irons, how many users the ONYX would support. He pointed to the
back and said, with a straight face, "It has 8 serial ports."
Jeffrey Haemer <jeffrey.haemer at gmail.com>
720-837-8908 [cell], @goyishekop [twitter]
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