[rescue] $35 50gig drives

Skeezics Boondoggle skeezics at q7.com
Sat May 7 03:20:43 CDT 2005

On Thu, 05 May 2005, Curtis H. Wilbar Jr. wrote:

> Yup... I have a milk crate full of MFM drives... including 2 ST225.
> Also includes an XT1140 and an XT2190 (maxtor 100ish and 200ish meg
> MFM drives).  Have a 10 megger in there I think... and a 40 megger,
> and a couple of 60 meggers (Micropolis 1325).

One of my first paying programming jobs involved hacking the "BITS"
operating system (a take off on the "IRIS" OS) on DG Nova clones, writing 
BASIC programs in 16K.  The cool feature of this environment were the 
built-in hooks for creating fast ISAM databases.  For a time, I had the 
dubious distinction of being the foremost expert on "BITS" and DG Nova 
compatible hardware in the region... that seems like a lifetime ago now.  
Well, 20 years at any rate. :-)

Anyway, I custom built a machine around an ACB4000 and a pair of XT1140s,
and this thing was "huge" compared to the turnkey systems the company had
been using to that point; we hammered on those drives for two years, 24x7,
and they took an amazing amount of punishment.  As you might expect, a
simplistic BASIC run-time system that had to run multiuser with 128K of
bank-switched main memory and an 8MB cache board (which cost something
like $12K at the time) could only go so far - so constant, around-the-
clock access to the main databases worked those drives _hard_.  Say what
you will about newer Maxtor drives, but those old XT-1000 series 5.25"  
drives were built like tanks.

(And speaking of gross hacks:  the card cage we spec'ed to hold the disks
and Adaptec board didn't fit right - and due to production pressures I had
to improvise a "temporary" solution involving a _cardboard_ standoff and
double-sided foam sticky tape.  It was hideous but ran that way for over
three years. :-)

I've still got one XT1140 in a PERQ T2 here at home, and I'd LOVE to get
another one - or, even better, a pair of XT2190s to max that machine
out... but lately people have been selling 2190s (aka DEC RD54s) for
$150-180 or _more_, and I've seen new listings with initial asking bids
upwards of $300!  Yow.  I almost bought an entire PDP-11/73 just for the
drive, since it was cheaper that way - and heck, it'd be cool as hell to
have an '11 to tinker with too...

-- Chris

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