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Re: Mixing vocation and avocation

[Tony's computer museum]

I don't have anything that extensive or old, but I happen to have:

    A graphics workstation built by Evans & Sutherland circa 1989.  I
    worked on the simulator of the pixel processor custom ASIC that
    was used to help verify the ASIC design as well as part of a
    simulator of the entire system.  Its a rather fancy beast, with an
    88-bit deep frame buffer, an a rather large parallel farm of AT&T
    DSP32C chips for graphics processing.  Its capable of
    approximately 100,000 gouraud shaded, lit, 10-pixel triangles per
    second.  (Graphics performance metrics need lots of qualifiers in
    order to be meaningful.)  The CPU is a MIPS R4000 running at 25
    MHz.  The fanciest MIPS chips these days run in excess of 250+

ARS "peripheral" for the ESV
    The ARS is an "advanced rendering system" device that was used to
    support a surface modelling package made by E&S called CDRS.  Its
    main customers were Ford and Chrysler, who actually used it in
    designing the exterior surfaces of some of their cars.  It is a
    box almost as large as the ESV -- about the size of an old LSI-11,
    roughly comparable in size to an air conditioner.  The ARS can
    make photorealistic renderings in seconds (as opposed to the
    minutes or hours it would take to generate a comparable quality
    rendering in software, even today), including texture mapping,
    shadows, and reflection mapping.  It does full-scene anti-aliasing
    by super-sampling (i.e. tons of computation).  The guts are
    implemented with ASICs and Weitek floating-point ALU chips.

3 NCD 16 X terminals
    Nothing special about these, really.  They are essentially 68000s
    with some memory, a 1-bit deep display (portrait mode) and a
    network interface.

Freedom Graphics Accelerator
    A graphics accelerator built by E&S that can interface to a Sun,
    HP, and IBM workstations through various bus interface cards specific
    to the host machine.  This was the follow-on to the ESV and
    includes texture mapping and OpenGL support (the ESV supported 3D
    graphics through PEX, a PHIGS derivative implemented on top of the
    X Window System).  The architecture is basically the same as the
    ESV, gobs of processors working in parallel to process the
    geometry into ready-to-rasterize bits of data that are sent on to
    an ASIC that scan converts and does frame buffer operations.

(For most of the past 10 years I'd been working at E&S until PTC
acquired the CDRS & 3D Paint groups from E&S about 3 years ago.)

This stuff isn't as "ancient" as what Tony's been collecting, but with
the advances in computer power (especially the graphics capabilities
of PCs) I soon expect that my Pentium based machine will soon
outperform them with a $500 graphics card.

At one point I owned a Timex ZX-81 (I think I gave it away), which I
soldered together myself.  I later purchased an Amiga 1000 (which I
sold for the price of the monitor), but never did anything useful with
it.  I did manage to unload it before Commodore went bankrupt.  With
the money I got from selling the A1000, I bought an 8088(!!) as a
disposable text-only machine.  I later sold that to a friend who uses
it for PIC microcontroller development.  I currently have a Pentium 90
machine that I use for most of my home computing, with the ESV/ARS
combination slated for connection to the internet soon.
                                               Rich Thomson