[rescue] Nicolet 660 in Rochester

John Floren slawmaster at gmail.com
Wed Jan 6 14:52:51 CST 2010

Greetings, everyone!

About a year ago, Ken Marshall offered me a Nicolet 660 scientific
computer. Unfortunately, I've been simply unable to take it as I lack
the space or time to really do it justice--I'm in the middle of a
Master's degree in Computer Engineering.

There's not a lot of info available on the 660, and I don't have the
brochures handy at this second, but from memory it is a 20-bit
scientific computer that came out in the mid 80s. It is a hip-high
(3'?) cabinet that acts like a mini rack (units slide in and out on
rails). The disk unit sits on top and has two SCSI 3.5" floppy drives
and an SMD hard disk. Under that is the CPU unit, which has (as I
recall) a start/stop button, a program1 button, a program2 button, and
a power switch. There is a VGA monitor
and an AT keyboard to go with it, both Nicolet branded.

The OS is called NICOS and apparently is FORTH-based. It also includes
floppies for FORTRAN, PASCAL, and BASIC. There is also a lot of
software for data collection and processing, as this was once hooked
up to lab equipment.

Full disclosure: the SMD hard drive seems to be kind of flaky. Some
times it boots, some times it doesn't. Someone more skilled and/or
resourceful than me should be able to either replace the disk or fake
one with a newer storage medium.

I believe there may also be a spectrometer designed to be used with
the Nicolet, if you have the space (and if it's actually up for

This computer is really kind of beautiful, it's a unique design and
there don't seem to be very many of these out there. I couldn't google
up any images, and the server that used to store the pictures we took
is down at the moment, but if you want to see it send me an email and
I'll send pics.

It is located in Rochester, NY. Shipping is not feasible unless you're
willing to arrange for someone to come in and palletize the system.

"Object-oriented design is the roman numerals of computing" -- Rob Pike

More information about the rescue mailing list