The Vector Graphics VIP was also called Vector 3 because it was based around the Vector 3 terminal which had an integral 72 key keyboard and 12" video screen.
The unit had a six slot S-100 bus board which came with a Z80A processor board fitted with 56 KB RAM. The board also had a serial interface and three 8-bit parallel I/O ports. The VIP configuration originally came out with a 340k Micropolis Floppy Disk drive. Later this was a 640k Tandon hard sectored floppy drive.
Not shown configurations had a dual floppy drive or, for the 3005, a 5 megabyte Seagate ST506 drive.
The Vector 3 ran CP/M operating system and all its associated professionnal software. It came with Memorite III word processor, Execuplan (a form of planning program like Visicalc), and the Microsoft BASIC interpreter. Peachtree Accounting was available on Vector machines as well, probably the first implementation on a microcomputer.
Anecdotally, Vector Graphics Inc of California was started by two housewives in the late '70s. They were called Lore Harp and Carole Ely. The third founder, Robert Harp, was technical director. The Harp's were divorcing, which ultimately brought the company down.
More information from Dennis Wingo who used to work at Vector Graphic:
The CPU was housed in an 18 slot (the MZ box) S-100 Chassis designed by Vector. In late 1977 early 78 Vector went to the Z80A processor on a single board. The boot ROM (2k) resided on the Prom/RAM card. Later versions updated the PROM/RAM card to 8k using 4 kbyte PROMS and one 1k of Fast Static RAM for the processor Stack. The processor speed went from 1 MHz to 4 MHz during that period.
in early 1981 Vector engineer Corey Selby redesigned the Processor Card, PROM/RAM card and Parallel I/O card into the ZCB or Z80 Single Board Computer. It had a 4 MHz, later a 6 MHz Z80B CPU. The ZCB incorporated two serial ports via and 8251A serial I/O controller. It added an Intel 8020 24 bit parallel I/O port controller, 4k of PROM and 1k of Static RAM.
Later this design was integrated into the motherboard of the Vector 4 Single Board Computer along with an Intel 8088 that we built and released starting in 1982.
The VIP System shown above had a six slot S-100 card integrated behind the picture tube behind the Mindless Terminal (MT) CRT. In this six slot system there was a ZCB a Floppy Disk Controller Card or an FD/HD (Floppy Disk/Hard Disk) (Single floppy version shown above) controller. Also plugged into the S-100 motherboard was a 56k DRAM Card, and an 20 X 24 Memory mapped video card with 2k of Fast SRAM (Flashwriter II Card).
In very late versions of the Vector 3 series was an FD/HD card with a ten megabyte Seagate ST506 interface hard drive. This system was also connected to other computers via an 750 kilobit token passing Local Area Network (LinkNet). The LinkNet card allowed up to 256 different Vector Computers to be hooked together into a seamless net where you had shared disk and printer resources. This system was a pioneer in the computer industry as the first low cost microcomputer system to have this capability.
There were several interesting configurations of the vector system.
Ullrich Moser adds:
I had pretty much this computer with a 5 MB hard disk built in.
Execuplan was a fully functioning spreadsheet and if remember correctly, better than Visicalc.
My machine had Magic Wand as word processor.
One could buy a (terribly expensive) sheet feeder and write mass mailings just like with a Wang machine for a fraction of the price.
The is a mailing list for Vector Graphic computers if you are interested in them. All VG related topics welcome.
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Sunday 18th November 2007
Andrew Lynch (Ohio)
When I was 11 years old I follow my first computer formation, in Rancagua (Chile). The Vector 3 was the first PC that I use, in 1986. It's funny to see it after 21 years... in a museum. I getting older?
Monday 20th August 2007
van Treek, Mike (Belgium)
1982 - I was using this computer at a magazine publishers. We used DBASE2, Memorite III and were connected via Centronics interface, to a large, wide, noisy Mannesman Tally dot-matrix printer for printing subscription labels every month.
If I can remember rightly, we either had an external 5 or a 10 megabyte hard drive. Backups were very, very slow every month with the boxes of 5 1/4" floppy disks.