[lug] SGI Onyx 2

Jeffrey Haemer jeffrey.haemer at gmail.com
Wed Mar 31 12:54:27 MDT 2010

And before someone makes fun of me (well, for that, anyway), I meant 640Kb,
not 64Kb.  Yeah, yeah.

Oh, and if you have an 8088-based, PC/XT lying around, I have a full set of
official, PC/IX disks.

It's much happier with 20Mb of disk space than with 10Mb, so if you also
have a 10Mb expansion chassis, that'll help.

It doesn't require an 8087, math co-processor, but without one some things
are unexpectedly slow, including awk.  It turns out that awk does (did?) all
its math in floating point.

In this program, for example:

     awk 'BEGIN { for(i=0; i<100; i++) print i }'

awk converted the counter to floating point in order to increment it, each
time through the loop, then back again in order to print it.

I think you can even run PC/IX on a machine with 320Kb of memory.  You can
also bicycle to Alaska.

On Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 12:29 PM, Jeffrey Haemer
<jeffrey.haemer at gmail.com>wrote:

> 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]
> http://seejeffrun.blogspot.com [blog],
> http://www.youtube.com/user/goyishekop [vlog]

Jeffrey Haemer <jeffrey.haemer at gmail.com>
720-837-8908 [cell],  @goyishekop [twitter]
http://seejeffrun.blogspot.com [blog],
http://www.youtube.com/user/goyishekop [vlog]
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