Tek 4317 and/or Tek 4132

Rick Bensene rickb at bensene.com
Wed Jun 1 09:02:47 CDT 2016

Hello, kind ClassicCMP denizens,

I have two old Tektronix workstation machines.

One is a Tektronix 4132.  It is a pc-sized (a little less tall, a little deeper) unit that uses a National Semiconductor 32016 chip as the CPU.  It's got a bunch of cards for RAM expansion, parallel and RS-232 ports.  It comes with two built-in RS-232 ports, one of which is for the console terminal.  These machines have a slot in them a SCSI (single-ended) drive.  Typically they were equipped with Maxtor XT1105 and XT1140 drives.  In the front, they have a tape cartridge drive that uses 3m DC300A data cartridges.  This drive is equipped with a piggy-backed Adaptec converter that takes the native QIC tape drive format and converts it to a SCSI accessible tape drive.  On the bank panel is a 7- segment display that indicates the self-test and diagnostics, and when the OS (UTek) is loaded indicates system activity.  These is also a row of DIP-switches that set things like the console baud rate, boot device, and stuff like that.    There are two DB-25 serial ports, a GPIB port, an AUI port for 10 Megabit Ethernet, and a port that extended the internal SCSI bus externally.  Below  the back panel are slots for plugging in options such as RAM and I/O, which included things like full-width RAM cards (2 MB I think was the largest), half-width dual-port async RS-232 serial cards, a half-width parallel interface card, a half-width SCSI interface card (added another SCSI interface to the machine). The machine ran a 4.2-Berkeley variant known as UTek.
UTek was installed on the machine by putting a special cartridge in the drive that contained essentially a miniroot filesystem and basic boot code.  The configuration switches on the back would be set to force the tape drive as the boot device.  The machine would be powered up (the power button was a soft-power switch on the front panel of the machine), and the tape would be read, and options provided via the console terminal to format the drive, set its partition table, and things like that.  Then, the mini-root Unix system would be loaded into, and run out of memory.  From there, if I remember correctly, there was another cartridge (or perhaps two) that had the full UTek installation on them.  The first tape was loaded, and a script run from the mini-root OS that would begin the process of loading UTek onto the hard disk from the tape image, and creating the boot block and all that would be needed to boot up the full UTek environment from the hard disk.   When complete, the scripting would ask for things like setting the time and date (the machine had an built-in battery-backed real-time clock/calendar), setting the root password, creating user accounts and groups, and stuff like that.   
The machine was (for the day) a pretty capable little Unix workstation at a time (the 4132 was announced in August of '85) when Suns were still at Berkeley, and anything else that ran a halfway decent version of BSD was a supermini like a DEC VAX, some of the more powerful PDP 11's, or a Gould PowerNode.

The other machine, the Tektronix 4317, was again a Unix workstation-class machine, but this time, was based on the Motorola 68020 CPU, likely because software availability for Motorola 68K-family machine was much higher than that of the National 32016/32032 architecture, and porting things proved to be quite a difficult thing to do.
The 4317 was also in a PC-like cabinet, with a QIC-type tape drive on the front.  Internally, a SCSI hard disk provided storage, typically a larger one, like a 300Mb drive, from various different manufacturers.   The back panel was similar to that on the 6130, though the SCSI connector was more standardized, and there was an option for a framebuffer card that could add on to the CPU that provided graphics capability.  BNC connectors for RGB and sync (IIRC...or maybe it was sync-on-green, can't remember) were there, along with a jacks for plugging in a keyboard and mouse.  With a color display and keyboard/mouse the machine could run X-windows.  The back panel also had RS-232 ports, GPIB, and, if I remember correctly, it had both an AUI and BNC (for thin-net coax) for 10 Megabit Ethernet.  It had some slots for expansion options, but I don't remember how they were organized.  The CPU board had quite a bit of room for RAM, and I believe a RAM expansion board could pop onto the main board to bring the RAM (without expansion slots) to something like 4 or 5 megabytes.

Anyway, the situation is this:

I've got a 4132 and a 4317 stashed away in storage.  Both machines have had hard disk failures, so OS is gone.
I used to have installation media, but alas, the cartridges all suffered failed drive tapes, and they failed in a way where they turned into goo, and without noticing it, I put them in the drives, and the goo turned to tapes into sticky, goopy spaghetti, not to mention making a mess out of the tape drive head, and getting gooey junk all over the capstan and metal tape guides.   They weren't salvageable in any way.

So...what I'm looking for, after all that (hopefully informative) verbiage, I am wondering if anyone out there may have original UTek distribution media for both the 4132 and 4317 (may also work with the 4319 media), on DC300 or DC600 cartridges that are still viable, or at least if someone out there may have imaged said media somewhere along the way.  I figure that with a good drive, I could reconstitute the images such that I could potentially get these two machines running again.  I have appropriate SCSI disks that will work with the machines, and both machines seem to pass the in-built diagnostics and get to the point where they want to boot....but, alas, there's nothing to boot.

Any help is greatly appreciated.  I have had these machines for a long time, and the 4132,  I actually built from parts purchased from Tektronix stock when I worked there.  I ran it for a long time, until I could get a PC that was a lot faster, and run (sigh) Windows, for very little money.  I even still have 8mm backup tapes from the things...but only user data, not full backups of the OS and all.

Thanks in advance,

Rick Bensene
The Old Calculator Museum

More information about the cctech mailing list