[TUHS] Date madness

Clem Cole clemc at ccc.com
Sun Dec 17 01:45:56 AEST 2017

Apologies to Warren and the list for keeping this OT for UNIX thread going,
but it is history....

On Fri, Dec 15, 2017 at 11:41 AM, Paul Winalski <paul.winalski at gmail.com>

> The first two VAXen, the 11/780 and 11/750, both had TOY clocks that
> ran when the machine was powered off.  The 11/730 was designed to be a
> low-cost VAX, and one of the ways they lowered the cost was
> elimination of the TOY clock.  VMS (and I assume also UNIX) asked you
> to enter the time whenever you cold booted the 11/730.
> After the 11/730 came out, Dick Hustvedt (lead VMS architect and
> engineer) and Stan Rabinowitz put together an elaborate April fool's
> hack.  On April 1, the 11/730 in the VMS group's machine room had next
> to it a pedestal with a sundial on it and a ribbon cable leading into
> the 11/730, with sales brochures placed next to it.  The sales
> brochures announced the SD730 Fixed Head Solar Horologue, a sundial
> with a photocell for detecting noon that could be used to
> automatically set the 11/730's time-of-day clock.  The thing actually
> worked--it was connected via a UNIBUS real-time device controller, and
> Hustvedt had written a VMS device driver for it.
> All VAXen after the 11/730 had TOY clocks.
> -Paul W.

​As Paul and us ex-DECies remember, that hack lived on for years.   The ZK0
site (*a.k.a.* Spitbrook Road in Nashua, NH) was nominally DEC's SW
bldging.   At each site, there was a theme for naming the conference rooms;
*i.e.* LK0 (Littleton King St) it was towns/villages in New England.
It conference room being so name had a nice touch and much more fun than a
boring naming scheme of SITE_BLD-FLOOR-RM#-SIZE (such as Intel). **  The
ZK0 site theme had been historically famous people from science and
mathematics (CS, *etc*.).   Each room had painted on a wall a little
history about the person(s) and was 'dressed' with something, usually on
the walls, to depict one of their infamous ideas/inventions (e.g. Babbage
had difference engine, Ada, had pictures of things she used to program it,
I've forgotten what was in von Nueman but you get the idea).  After his
accident, one of the large conference rooms in VMS land, was renamed ​Hustvedt
and had the SD730 in the corner along with the story.   When we (Intel)
moved out the building, HP was closing shop in large sites in NE.   They
had already sold the bldgs to the local real-estate firm that sublets
them.  I've often wondered what happened to those rooms and in particular
the SD730 itself.  That one really should be in the Computer Museum.


** For the couple of years after the team was sold to Intel but not
moved desks, *i.e.* still on the second floor of ZK2, we had kept the DECs
names of our two large conference rooms which actually had official Intel
names, but everyone still called them by their DEC names.
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