[rescue] Solbourne Computers

Steve Jones smj+rescue at crash.com
Thu May 10 21:46:52 CDT 2007

I had generally good experiences with Solbournes in the 1991 time-
frame at Aware in Cambridge, MA and again at HyperDesk in Westboro, MA
in 1993-94.

The SunOS kernel architecture was unique (sun4k?), but didn't they
have multiprocessor well before Sun did? I think that's why we had
several of the large MP servers at Aware, which at the time was a ~30
person R&D outfit trying to find something you could do with wavelets
and wavelet transforms that would make money. It took many years but I
believe they finally "hit" on some sort of DSL chipset.

Many of the target applications involved compression and partial
differential equations, and they were a CPU hungry bunch. I remember
receiving something like 8 SPARCstation 2's and having them all in a
stack in my work area as I got them configured. It was fun writing
some scripts to find a lightly loaded machine from that set to run a
job, and testing it with Crack and some password files...

The Solbourne and other servers were kept in a machine room, and there
were a mix of PCs, Tektronix X terminals, a few workstations, some
Macs, and even a couple Symbolics LISP machines and a MacIvory.

At HyperDesk they were just cheap Sun alternatives. There was only one
4-way server in the machine room, but we had a handful of either 4000
or 4000DX workstations. HyperDesk was a Data General spin-off and
usually hungry for fast SunOS systems to develop the HD-DOMS system
on, an early CORBA object system.

Not to worry though, in 1994 the president said publicly that they
couldn't figure out how to make money on CORBA, they became a Windows
groupware company, I left rather than become a Windows developer, and
then they were bought and killed through neglect by FTP Software. I
was very amused when CORBA was taking off as the Next Big Thing later
in the decade.

Wow, quite the stroll down memory lane. But I do remember those big
Solbourne servers fondly, they were nice timesharing systems and
compute servers for the time.


More information about the rescue mailing list