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I > IBM  > Instruments Computer System

Instruments Computer System

Peter O'Keefe memories:
I have personal experience with the IBM Instruments Model 9000, the Benchtop lab computer with integrated color printer. 
I beleive the one I had experience with was the 9001, and the desktop available was the 9002. 
I can tell you quite a bit about this machine. My uncle who worked for a chemical company brought one home to me one day. I dont have it any more but I have an amazing memory of it.

• The machine was motorola 68000 based, big fat motorola chip on that motherboard.
• I had two seperate 8" drive units that used some form of SCSI. There was an ID selector that went from 0-7 just like a SCSI drive, and the 50 pin centronics cable that was identical to every external scsi drive I've seen. Each drive unit was enormous lengthwise, and was heavy as hell to lift. Discs were inserted vertically. 
• It ran something called "DOS" and yes it had a prompt. I tried and failed to run any MS DOS programs. It wouldnt even read the disks. 
• There was a huge set of membrane buttons on the front panel of the machine. Lots of cool little blinking lights. I do beleive inserts were available to software as well. I remember some of the buttons were labeled for a word processing program. 
• The machine itself was extremely upgradable. The expansion bus connector was enormous, spanning the entire width of the unit. Cards slid into the back of the unit along rails. There was an IEEE interface card for a gas spectrometer, a card that Im guessing was a SCSI card for the disk drives, etc. 
• The monitor was not powered by a seperate cord. A centronics style cable again connected to the monitor which had a "High Voltage" sticker on the machine side of the connector. The cable provided the monitor's monochrome signal, power, and connection to the 5 1/4" drive bay that could hold either a hard drive or a 5 1/4" floppy. The floppy didnt work, but all the disks I had were 8" anyway. It appeared exactly like an original black Apple II floppy drive. The hard drive I took apart because it didnt work at all. Huge platters, thick. 
• I had two 9000's, both the benchtops, both working. I only had one monitor though. 
• The monitor had a series of white membrane buttons under the screen. The screen had a brighness knob below the drive bay, which was a vertical bay to the right of the actual CRT. 
• The software the 9000 ran look a lot like MSDOS programs, witht he highlighted areas at the bottom of the screen showing an order of F-Keys. Well, instead of f-keys the highlighted areas lined up perfectly with the membrane buttons. Pressing these buttons performed the function written in the highlighted section 
• The keyboard had a standard AT connector, and I identified it as some cross between an AT and a PC Jr keyboard. It had the PC Jr's funny return key, and the numeric keypad was squished next to the rest of the keys. 
• It had a few languages available for it. The entire BASIC manual came with it, as the FORTRAN manual. Now this is surprising: At the time I could program on an AT running GW-BASIC, and had a whole reference for that as well. The 9000 actually had MORE functions available than were available in GW Basic. My favorite at the time was the Text (or was it "Type"?) command which could draw text on the screen at multiple type sizes, yes graphics! PRINT was just not as cool anymore 
• There was a neat word processing program that worked just like EMACS. Come to think of it It might have been emacs, but I wouldnt have known it at the time since I hadnt encountered emacs yet. It had that same funny keystroke set, and the status/command line at the bottom of the screen 
• Communications on this machine were amazing. The bandwith supported through the serial ports exceeds standard RS232 ports today. I think these were 422 or something. The baud rates available were comparable to a modern high speed serial add on card. 
• If you unscrewed the top of the machine, a plexiglass piece greets you with a "DANGER HIGH VOLTAGE" sticker. Yup. 
Everything screwed into place. The monitor had little hand screws to match up to the top of the machine. 
• Yes this is a BENCH TOP computer, the machine barely fit on the desk I had it on. There was always the front of it hanging over. If that thing had fallen on me I would be dead right now. 
• It came with a catalog that stated other models of the 9000 series, pardicularly a 9000 desktop machine without all that expansion. A software text only catalog showed clues that the machine was already forgotten by IBM, as the section for the 9000 was comprised of just a few lines. The PC Jr was listed in that catalog with many many pages of software products. 
• I remember it having tons of cooling fans. The machine was LOUD and had heavily insulated power cables. 
• I do recall trying to write a report for school on it once just to be an arse. The type face looked a little unusual compared to the other kid's appleworks printouts.

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