I met KO once in Maynard at the Old Mill and got to see his original
orange-crate desk that he shared with Gordon Bell. Nice guy and
First fulltime techie gig I had was at Simplex Time Recorder, Gardner, MA,
operator for DEC PDP-11 running RSX CAD/CAM stuff, and a MicroVax running
VMS 3.5 for the software engineers. 1986. Previously, as an assistant
bookstore manager at Clark U., I'd been in charge of selling the DEC Rainbow
PCs as part of the University's program for students, faculty and staff.
Last time I worked on DEC stuff was the VAX/VMS 7000 and the Alpha OpenVMS
boxen running 7.1 at an outfit in downtown Woostuh. 2006-07.
>From what I've heard inside the old DEC social circles is that a lot of the
VMS engineering that didn't migrate to HP went to India, and that many of
the old VMS guys have long since moved on to...drum roll....Linux.
In other old DEC scuttlebutt, there was supposed to be an open field
somewhere off Route 12 in Leominster that contained all kinds of hw
dumped/stored there by whatever DEC facility back in the day. During my own
time at DEC in 87-89 one of our operators told us he'd gotten all kinds of
stuff from there and was now storing it in his front yard in Sterling.
Regards from the shores of Lake Champlain in winter,
> 2. nice remembrances: Ken Olsen, DEC, ..... (Doug Mildram)
> Message: 2
> Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2011 12:35:39 -0500
> From: Doug Mildram <dmildram(a)gmail.com>
> Subject: [Wlug] nice remembrances: Ken Olsen, DEC, .....
> To: wlug(a)mail.wlug.org
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
> A nice article from Jon Hall is on top of the blog
> along with many other replies about PDP-* systems, VMS, etc.
> My first HIGHtech job (1985) was hanging tapes and keeping dumb terminals
> alive and connected to four
> VAX 750/780's running (not VMS but) BSD4 unix (before NFS, before NIS)
> for a robotics shop in Billerica called Automatix. csh% a.out
> hello, world !
> -------------- next part --------------
> An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
> Wlug mailing list
> End of Wlug Digest, Vol 88, Issue 10
Since we are reminiscing about DEC and KO....
I started at DEC in 1978 working on the DECSYSTEM20. My first manager
was one of the first 100 DEC employees and even though I was initially
working as a contractor for DEC (on an air force base) in Rome NY we
made a trip to Maynard where he introduced me to the mill and to Ken
Olsen. It was a fascinating time as I worked at the place which
essentially funded the ARPANET and TCP/IP. I went to work in DEC
engineering in Marlboro in 1981. Eventually I ended up at Stratus where
among other things I now manage the Linux group (I never worked on VMS
although I did do some stuff with the Ultrix group). It still amazes me
(and many others) that DEC went away. I often tell my engineers that
when I see some computer or software technology that DEC did not have I
will let them know (there is some but not much that DEC did not have
first and for which very little credit is given).
I shall reveal my age. I was a working AN/FSQ7 programmer in Group 67 at Lincoln Labs when KO took off on his crazy venture to that mill in Maynard. I did not know Ken at the time as he was in Group 64 if my memory serves me correctly.
DEC's first products were 'logic boards'. Those were the days of 'wire wrap' breadboarding. Ken's cards built with itty bitty new fangled transistor things slipped securely into a standard wire wrap board. I do not remember any specific cards, but I know they consisted of multiple individual NAND and NOR gates and probably a couple of FLIP FLOPs.
>From that came the PDP-1 which I never saw. My memory focuses on the PDP-8 which was popular - so to speak. To put this in perspective the US had just deployed the SAGE air defense computers all around the country to detect and intercept Russian atomic bomb carrying jet airplanes. The SAGE computers used water cooled vacuum tube technology.
I suggest, if you can find a library (remember them?), that is open check out "DEC is Dead, Long LIve DEC" The Lasting Legacy of Digital Equipment Corporation by Edgar Schein. (Is it available on NOOK?). My read of that book was that DEC was fine and healthy so long as it's engineers were producing products the customers did not know they needed, ie DEC was never consumer driven. (This is part of why KO was so beloved.) I was a TCP/IP aware person when I went to work for DEC in 1985. Inside those DEC walls DECnet was not only everything, it was the only thing.
A nice article from Jon Hall is on top of the blog
along with many other replies about PDP-* systems, VMS, etc.
My first HIGHtech job (1985) was hanging tapes and keeping dumb terminals
alive and connected to four
VAX 750/780's running (not VMS but) BSD4 unix (before NFS, before NIS)
for a robotics shop in Billerica called Automatix. csh% a.out
hello, world !
Our next WLUG meeting is tonight at 7:00 PM at the WPI campus in
Worcester, MA USA. The meeting room is in WPI's Morgan Hall (building
'H' on the campus map ), down the hallway to the right of the
dining hall entrance.
President, Worcester Linux Users' Group
Northeast GNU/Linux Fest Details
Date: Saturday, April 2, 2011
Time: 10:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Worcester State University
486 Chandler St.
Worcester MA 01602
----- Forwarded message from Jonathan Nadeau <northeastlinux(a)gmail.com> -----
From: Jonathan Nadeau <northeastlinux(a)gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 03 Feb 2011 09:15:08 -0500
Subject: Northeast GNU/Linux fest
My name is Jonathan Nadeau and I'm coordinator of the Northeast GNU/Linux
fest (http://www.northeastlinuxfest.org) which will be held in Worcester,
MA on April 2, 2011.
I was given your contact info by Jon Maddog Hall (who will be speaking at
the event), and I'm writing to you to see if you would be willing to
attend, and if you would please announce this to the people in your group.
Thanks for your time and help.
----- End forwarded message -----
I've made a survey for Linux User Group members across North America. I
would like to get the pulse of different groups and see what's working so
that all LUG's can improve the experience. This data will be published on
http://clug.ca (the Calgary Linux User Group website) on August, 2011. The
survey is only 12 questions, and shouldn't take more than 5 minutes to
Thank you for your participation!
President of Calgary Linux User Group
Just before moving from the Portland, Oregon area back to
Massachusetts, I did have the proverbial closet of
old computer equipment. Portland had a place that you
could bring this equipment to for recycling. They
charged a small fee to take the equipment off your hands
with the commitment that they would refurbish it or
otherwise recycle it.
Of course Portland had such a strong green ethos that a business
like this could flourish there.
I figured I did my part for the environment and saved the
cost of moving the dead weight across country and storing it
in a closet here.
On 2/5/2011 12:00 PM, wlug-request(a)mail.wlug.org wrote:
> Send Wlug mailing list submissions to
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> Today's Topics:
> 1. Re: Business idea (joel d)
> 2. Re: Business idea (soup)
> Wlug mailing list
Steven Greenberg Email: steve(a)ssgreenberg.name
251 Holland Rd. Phone: (774)241-0095
Fiskdale, Massachusetts 01518-1231 Web: http://www.ssgreenberg.name
Other Email: s.greenberg(a)ieee.org ssg(a)alum.mit.edu
On 2/3/2011 11:30 AM, Keith Wright wrote:
>> From: Jason Couture<plaguethenet(a)gmail.com>
>> I was considering reviving my PC business by selling
>> computers with linux preinstalled. Does anyone have
>> any distro suggestions aside from Ubuntu and mint? Do
>> any of you know anyone who may be interested?
> Well, good luck with that (sincerely).
> I had that idea about twelve years ago.
> As it worked out, I was fronting thousands
> of dollars for parts and working for a day
> to put it all together for a profit of a
> few dollars. You can't ask much money for
> doing a simple thing that the people smart
> and knowledgable enough to want can do for
> I decided to give it up when one company
> that bought about $3000 worth of computer
> decided to return it. That was my main
> computer for several years, but if I had
> designed it myself I would have built
> something a bit cheaper. I sure didn't
> need another one.
> -- Keith
> Wlug mailing list
I have also been trying out the numbers on such a venture and have come
to the same conclusion (as Keith). If you can come up with a special
niche market, like a car/boat/RV computer or a DVR/HDTV computer for a
particular market that has some kind of Television access problem, then
you may find a way to profit. It is very hard to go up against the
low-end and sale machines at the stores. If you are a great seller,
you may be able to talk your way into some customers. In Florida, there
are a couple of small companies doing neighborhood wifi internet access
for a great price, but even they depend more on the internet charges and
the computer service calls than on system sales.
Service and training seems like the most profitable part of the picture
Still, I hope you find a way to do this. I hope I don't sound too
negative. I'm just a regular guy without any strict training or a
business degree, so I'm certainly not the last word on the subject.
David P. Connell
"Watch where you're going; remember where you've been."
Sorry for not chiming in sooner.
I remember while working on my MBA trying to work out how to run a
small for profit local PC and support business aimed at home consumers
and an occasional small business.
The short answer at the time was the advent of the "shiny new $450 PC"
made computers toaster-ish (breaks - put in basement/closet - buy
In the ensuing decade plus since I have confirmed two things IMHO:
1) The price of entry level PCs are going even lower. I haven't
looked but I bet there are refurbs out there for $200-ish.
This fact makes it harder for a consumer to pay even $25 for someone
to work on their (likely 2 to 6 years old on average) PC whether in a
shop or in the home. The business person's reasoning is "good money
after bad". Not sure why home consumers do this, but they do.
2) Most non-IT geeks have a small closet/basement pile of PCs
somewhere in their house if they haven't moved within the decade.
Moving of course drives people into momentary sanity with "Why am I
keeping / saving / moving all this useless junk?"
Geeks of course re-use them as personal firewalls / coffee warmers /
Myth boxes / ways to communicate with aliens / ...
App won't install...
Printer cable won't connect...
Adware and viruses got you slugging along...
Bad device driver killing your uptime...
Your 18 long hair cats packing the case with a fur effigy with
expected heat & reboot issues...
Consumers answer to all is: "Buy a new PC!"
Ask around to non-geek friends/co-workers. You will be amazed.
A family friend is on their 4th brand new computer in 3 years.
I assure you the scope of work has not changed (web browsing, e-mail,
I am now wondering how do you get these closet PCs for cheap/free then
image them to get them useful again.
Obvious start is to get referrals from moving companies that quote
household moves, then call offering to remove their unused PC's for
Somewhere there must be a support group for home consumers who have
their own Dell rep on speed dial.
I am not bashing Dell here, merely using their name in the examples
to make a point,