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W > WICAT  > 150


 

This mini forum is intended to provide a simple means of discussion about the WICAT  150 computer. If you want to share your own experience or memories, or add relevant information about this system: post a message! For other purposes like sales messages, hardware & software questions or information requests, please use our main forum.

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Monday 8th November 2010
Ralph H. Stoos Jr. (New York USA)

Started with WICAT in 1986 and left in 1995. As I was departing I was the Service Manager for the NorthEast US with the exception of NYC (Thank God).

I knew Steve Jeffus and would make my yearly pilgrimage to Orem, Utah to give/take training.

Just to correct two things. One the Operating Systems was called WICAT Multiuser Control System (WMCS) and it had context-sensitive help long before anybody else. The OS looked like it was stolen directly from VMS but I never heard of a law suit.

Next, the 150 was able to display monchrome graphics at 300x200 which was a lot for those days.

There is still a WICAT 1250 with 16 serial ports on it and an 86 MB SCSI hard disk runing here in western NY.

I made it throught Jostens Learning takeover and worked schools. When the merge happened, I was thrown into learning MACs because Jostens Learning (which was originally Prescription Learning) only ran on MACs. So the existing Josten techs only knew MACs/AppleShare and we WICAT folks were all PC/Novell. I learned MACs faster than my mentor learned Novell so I became a manager.

All that went on until 1995 when I joined Xerox because they were going to double my salary. Still here in 2010.

WICAT got out of the hardware business which is sad because they made great hardware.

One war story: I waiting in Pittsburgh for a Fed-Ex plane that was supposed to bring my server (2.3 frig-sized WICAT system). Long story short they $ped it out of the plane onto the runway (it was in a box but it still looks like a parallel-o-gram). I ran it to the school and disassembled the device out of the bent case, reconected and inspected everything and it came up! Very good hardware. 474MB SMD drive.

Last item. Parts of the original Star Wars movies were mocked up on WICAT hardware. George Lucas bought some of it so he could use the WISE emulator software package. I also installed systems for US Air, Air Canada, and Metro North (NYC subway).


Friday 24th September 2010
Leslie Applebee (Melbourne, Australia)

I was with Wicat as a field tech when Lionel Singer brought the first units ( S150s $ S200s)) to Australia in 1985 and continued with the company through it''s many guises to its sale to Fujitsu where I''m still wielding a screwdriver today ! I worked on the WITs, the halfWITS, al.l of the multibus platforms and many if not all of the proprietary systems that were present in Aus. I have an ICI-8 mounted on the wall in my office at Fujitsu to remind me of what "real computing" was all about !!


Friday 20th July 2007
Rachel Conine (Tiburon, CA)

Steve, I'm not sure if you remember me or not, but I was with WICAT Systems from 1984 - 1991 (when I was recruited by Jostens Learning.) One year later Jostens merged with WICAT and we were all back together again. I was with the combined company until 1995. I am now working with a non-profit organization that is developing a Virtual Museum of all the documentation & software we can lay our hands on from educational technology companies from the 1970s - 1990s. We would love to talk to you about what is in your head . . . I'll even buy the beer and hot dogs!


Tuesday 28th June 2005
Steve Jeffus (Seattle, WA)

If anyone cares I can probably answer just about any question you may have about WICAT systems. I was with the company for over 10 years and witnessed nearly every product they built and any variation thereof. I started as a field engineer in their very early years and was Director of Field Operations when they merged (bought out) by Jostens.

Just on a lark I was surfing and decided I would look WICAT up...and viola here I am. To answer Dan's question...I might have some pictures of these old things...I was the field engineer supporting WICAT at Ft. Lewis and travelled nearly every where they deployed those boxes. The history of that two to one drawer evolution is a story for a six pack and some serious knee slapping...I know...I was there!


Friday 8th April 2011
James Wheeler

In 1982, my software group at STSC developed an APL interpreter on a Wicat 150 with APL keyboard. I donated that machine to the Computer History Museum a few years back. 5 guys with RS-232 connections to terminals shared time-shared that machine. Code we wrote back then is still commercially available on modern Windows and Unix boxes.


Saturday 28th October 2017
Les Kraut (utah USA)

It was quite a surprise to run into this site. I worked at Wicat for several years. Started in assembly production and then was moved to customer service in Orem It was in the late eighties. Was T.E. on a machine called the Zentel if I remember correctly. These machines were extremely advanced for the time. Doubtful people really understand the processor buffering that pushed it way beyond the speeds of other systems for the time. It was a full multiuser/multitasking system. It''s O/S was very nice, but it also ran unix. I developed a software for logging repairs etc. that went back to engineering and many improvements were able to be made from that data. I was then sent out to texas as support for a school district there. I have to say I really loved the company. It was very much of a highlight in my life...
Funny but I don''t recognize any of the names here but, it was a pretty wides spread company.


Friday 30th January 2015
George Burch (USA)
Linkapedia

I came across WICAT when I was with Booze Alan. We had an Army contract to build educational kiosks for recruiting. The spec required a Basic compiler which didn''t exist then. The WMCS OS was robust enough that we met the spec. The WICAT laser disc could be programmed to add graphic overlays (sprites and stuff) which made a big hit with the recruiters.


Friday 30th January 2015
George Burch (USA)
Linkapedia

I came across WICAT when I was with Booze Alan. We had an Army contract to build educational kiosks for recruiting. The spec required a Basic compiler which didn''t exist then. The WMCS OS was robust enough that we met the spec. The WICAT laser disc could be programmed to add graphic overlays (sprites and stuff) which made a big hit with the recruiters.


Monday 26th May 2014
nycwicatworker (NYC US)

This is a shoutout to everyone who worked in the NYC office in Noho. Client base included Metro North, Citibank, and Northern Telecom. The CAT part of the business was developed - if I recall - to support Dusty''s vision of handheld computers (in 1981!) and customized computer based learning systems for school systems.

Thank you to WICAT for a great place to work and learn about computing in its relative infancy.

PS. I Remember being with a colleague at trade shows where he programmed a fly flying into Bob Mendenhall''s ear and out of his nose!


Monday 26th May 2014
nycwicatworker (NYC US)

This is a shoutout to everyone who worked in the NYC office in Noho. Client base included Metro North, Citibank, and Northern Telecom. The CAT part of the business was developed - if I recall - to support Dusty''s vision of handheld computers (in 1981!) and customized computer based learning systems for school systems.

Thank you to WICAT for a great place to work and learn about computing in its relative infancy.

PS. I Remember being with a colleague at trade shows where he programmed a fly flying into Bob Mendenhall''s ear and out of his nose!


Saturday 25th May 2013
Benjamin Trillanes (Hagerstown, Md./ USA)

This stuff brings back some old memories. I was a tech in about 1983 in the Washington and Baltimore area. I still have a system that I stuck together with old parts. Also have all docs and OS floppies. Both Unix and MCS, at lease I think I do.


Tuesday 11th December 2012
Mark Sullivan (Houston, TX USA)

I see that the coprocessor spec is marked "unknown". There was a FP coprocessor. It was an entire Multibus card that hosted an 8087 which was the math co-pro for the 8086. I don''t recall if there was some other kind of CPU on this board or if the interface to multibus was TTL. The hard disk controller, for example, had some kind of bit-slice processor on it and maybe the math card did as well.


Friday 31st August 2012
Jean Desjardins (Montreal, Quebec)

Wicat''s 150 was the model used in many schools in Montreal, QC. We learned Pascal, COBOL, WMCS, and some pointer-based database software. Other schools were using the PC-XT with dBASE III at the time. So we were really happy to learn assembler 68000 !!! $)


Saturday 29th October 2011
Andre Hut (Denver)

I worked at WICAT in Orem, UT in 1983. It was a great place to work, with talented software and hardware engineers. The WICAT 150 was also one of the first UNIX workstations, running BSD UNIX. I had a sooped up 150, with 512k of memory!!!


Saturday 15th January 2011
PGM (Silicon Valley)

I worked for Wicat''s largest OEM dealer back in the 80''s.
A company called Apothetech,of which we wrote a custom turnkey pharmacy system software package.

Unfortunately the systems were plagued with QA and design flaws.
Major of which was a grounding problem in the multibuss based backplane.
The parent company of Apothetech sued Wicat and received an undisclosed settlement which spelled the beginning of the end for Wicat''s hardware days as an OEM supplier.


Tuesday 9th November 2010
Sergio Samayoa (Guatemala)

I worked with a WICAT 1250 from 1987 to 1990 as Cobol programmer.

The machine has 2MB RAM, 12" Tape, 500MB HD (big one for that time) and has about 30+ terminals connected to it.

The machine only ran RM/Cobol programs but instead of using RM files we used KSAM files which give us a very good performance since KSAM files were part of the OS.

I remeber that in 1989 our HD failed and took about 2 week to get the replacement. Such big disks were very uncommon at that time.

About that time, one division of our company brougth an AS400 with 600MB of disk (Im pretty sure about this) and 128MB (not sure about this, maybe 32 or 64) of RAM. But for our surpprise (the ones working on the Wicat), half of the disk space was occuped by the OS and with ALL the RAM it haves the AS400 was slower than our "small" Wicat.

I liked a lot the WMCS. I wonder were are the sources.


Sunday 19th December 2004
Dan Flak (Greensboro, NC)
Dan Flak

In the 1980's I was part of a program using WICAT (150's -- I think) for a U.S. Army project at Ft. Lewis, WA.

I recall it came in two versions: a two-drawer "office" model and later a single steel box about 12 x 10 x 30 inches.

Does anyone have pictures of these beasts?


Thursday 3rd June 2004
Cliff Coleman (Kentucky, USA)

http://www.wicat.com/ Are these guys the same company? Their "About" page seems to indicate they pioneered video disc-based training, which was mentioned in the computer description. They do flight simulation & training now.





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