[TUHS] The evolution of Unix facilities and architecture

David david at kdbarto.org
Sat May 20 00:31:54 AEST 2017

At Celerity we were porting Unix to a new NCR chipset for our washing machine sized Workstation.
We had a VAX 750 as the development box and we cross compiled to the NCR box. We contracted
out the 750 maintenance to a 3rd party and had no problems for a couple of years. Then one day I
came in to work to find the VAX happy consuming power and doing nothing. Unix wasn’t running and
nothing I could do would bring it back. After about 2 hours I got my boss and we contacted the maintenance
company. They guy they sent did much what I’d done and then went around the back. He pushed on the
backplane of the machine and Lo, it started working. He then removed the pressure and it failed quite
immediately. Turns out the backplane had a broken trace in it. We had done no board swaps in many
months and the room had had no A/C faults of any kind.

The company got a new backplane and had it installed in 2 days. Being 3rd party we couldn’t get it
replaced any quicker. After that it worked like a champ.

Celerity eventually became part of Sun as Sun Supercomputer.


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