Graphical systems in the period 1978 - 1983
In the seventies, Tektronix
developed the 4010
and the much larger 4014 graphical terminals. On the fosphor tube, drawings and
text could be displayed. The Laboratory used a couple of these terminals and installed
in the main terminal room a large TEK4014 terminal with hard-copy unit. Using
subroutines from the Terminal Control System (TCS)-library, part of PLOT-10, users
could plot and display output onto these terminals.
As the Calcomp-plotter
was in use for over ten years and increasingly required to be repaired, it was replaced
in 1982 by a Calcomp 1051 plotter.
As the plotter had a very high utilisation, users increasingly asked for a plot preview
facility. After long debates and long thoughts about rewriting the Calcomp plotlibrary software,
it required only a couple of weeks programming and testing in order to develop
a library that replaced the Calcomp-calls by TCS-calls.
This allowed the users to preview their plots and remove programming errors. The PREVIEW
program acquired the preview plot from a system queue, displayed it and allowed
the user to zoom in and out on his plot. When satisfied, the user could send the preview plot
to the central plot queue for plotting.
The Comtal "Vision One/20" system
Vision One/20 - according to the manufacturer: "a system that is really at
the edge of the technical state-of-the-art possibilities - was installed
in October 1980. The system costs were US$ 144,000. During the acceptance
testing, the system did not comply with all stated requirements and specifications.
As the Laboratory had a number of projects that required the Comtal system, the
system was put into operation "conditionally". Some part of the system costs were
not paid pending full acceptance. The installed Comtal Vision One/20 was based
on a PDP LSI 11/02 minicomputer system. To resolve the pending acceptance problems,
the manufacturer suggested to install Release K, a release that was not supported
on a PDP LSI 11/02. Some months later, the local distributor ended their contract
with the manufacturer.
At the end, in 1987 - seven years after installations -
lawyers will still argueing about the pending payments.
The Comtal was de-installed on September 1st, 1988.
In 1983, TNO bought a VAX 11/750 (costs
Dfl. 350,000 - approx. Euro 160,000) with the following purposes:
- controlling the Comtal and the storage of Comtal graphic files, in order to use the Comtal
- the development of software for measurement systems, based on microPower/Pascal
- the cross-compilation of code for the
68000-microprocessors, especially for the Defense ZODIAC communication system.
Acquisition of the VAX 11/750 required
the consent of the Computer commission of the TNO Hoofdgroep defensieonderzoek
(HDO), the precursor of TNO Defense
Research. They carefully took into account the interoperability and integration
aspects of the system into the infrastructure of the merged LEOK and Physics
Laboratory. They also considered the total HDO computer infrastructure for their
The VAX 11/750 and some of the RA80/TA80 disk/tape-units.