[rescue] long shot... anybody got a Gateway 486?

Dan Sikorski me at dansikorski.com
Wed May 1 23:22:09 CDT 2013

On Apr 30, 2013, at 11:28 AM, Joshua Snyder <josh at imagestream.com> wrote:

>> The nCUBE2 has a little battle damage. The previous owner took it to a
>> basement and it slipped going down the stairs. Internally it's in good
>> shape and I've powered it up without smoke and clean voltages, but all of
>> the buttons on it are broken off - I don't actually know what they do. I
>> have the host processor with software and interface card (a Sun 4/470 in
>> this unit's case), but until recently had absolutly no idea how to even
>> talk to the nCUBE. A helpful chap posted simultaneously to my YouTube
>> channel and classiccmp a bunch of documentation from a Russian university,
>> so I'm trying to find time to pull them back out - reverify its in working
>> state - and see if I can talk to it.
> Since I was involved with the original rescue of your nCUBE2; trust me
> when I say it wasn't clear to us what those buttons did when they were
> intact.  As I remember they were rather abstract symbols, it wasn't even
> clear to us if they were used to power up the system.  It was a real
> bummer to find that we had damaged those buttons when we moved the
> machine.  We didn't notice the damage until it was way too late.

Hey, I'M that previous owner, and those broken buttons probably saved my life
when we were moving it down the stairs with me under it!

Anyway, they were four plastic parts that broke off, labeled with words, the
top three were buttons, the bottom one no button just a status indicator.  The
top one was start, the one below it stop as i recall.  I've looked in the past
to find pictures of the buttons when they were intact, but i don't think any
of my pictures were close enough to make the buttons out.  I know that the
4/470 that came with it had some software on it to talk to the nCUBE (and as i
recall, using it required programming in FORTRAN), but it was all far over my
head to do anything with it at all.  From what i can remember reading, the
4/470 was a pretty unusual host for the nCUBE/2, most were smaller VME
workstations.  Also, mind you, 64 processors was a small configuration for
that machine, only a single processor board.

Now, speaking of battle damage, when i picked up the nCUBE/2 from Purdue
Salvage, there was a guy there who had cracked the front glass to pull the CPU
board out of it to hang on the wall in his office.  When i said i was there to
buy the whole machine, he put the board back in, so there's no guarantee that
the board is in the right slot, or that the machine is entirely intact.  But,
you didn't pick up that machine without expecting a challenge, right? ;)

Oh, and back to earlier conversation in this thread, my first computer was a
TI99/4A, but the first one i really used was a Packard Bell 486.  I think i
still have the TI somewhere, but the last i saw the Packard Bell was when i
donated it to a local charity at least a decade ago, and i don't miss it. ;)

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