Kaur Collection Inventory

Adam Thornton athornton at gmail.com
Fri May 17 22:30:57 CDT 2019

Last Saturday I went out to the location where the collection mentioned by Kristina Kaur resides, to take photos, create an inventory to the best of my abilities, and help her solicit proposals for the various items.  

I’m going to lead off with one of my last sentences in this email: PLEASE DO NOT WRITE KRISTINA, OR ME, DIRECTLY WITH YOUR OFFERS.  Use the contact form in the Google Drive folder (see below) I’m pointing to and send your proposal to laura at rubinbernsteinlaw.com <mailto:laura at rubinbernsteinlaw.com> .  I have no power over the disposition of any of this—I am just the chronicler—and Kristina wants to route all proposals for acquiring these things through the family's lawyer.

The basic background is this: all of this stuff belongs to a man who has run a bulk-mailing business for many years, and who wrote a bunch of his own software for PDP-11 machines to do that bulk mailing.  He has continued to use the PDP-11s until, apparently, quite recently.

He also, unfortunately, has recently had a stroke, and although he is expected to recover, he is not going to be able to continue running the business, and particularly not from these machines.  So his daughter, Kristina, has decided to make the collection available to people who will do right by it (preferably in a public museum), rather than just send it to the scrapper, which is awfully nice of her.

I want to express my gratitude to Kristina for allowing me to go out there and root through the collection, and to Ruthann, who provided good company during the digging and invaluable service during the search.

There are three locations for all these items.  Computing equipment is either in a climate-controlled garage, and apparently has been running until quite recently, or it is in a warehouse, which I do not believe to be climate-controlled but is walled and roofed and kept dark, which are all good things in Tucson.  All the manuals were on a bookshelf in the home office, and were kept climate-controlled and relatively dust-free.  The manuals are in excellent shape considering their age, with no environmental damage, although some of them are clearly worn from use.

Let me get a couple things out of the way first: it was rumored there was an 11/40 here.  I didn’t see one, but I saw a mystery PDP-11 in the garage that I believe to be an 11/70.  As near as I can tell, there are two PDP-11 systems in the garage (the mystery 70 and an 11/45), which I believe to be in running or near-to-it shape.

There’s also a *lot* of stuff out in the warehouse, much of it apparently bought from the University of Arizona at auction over the years, largely shrinkwrapped (sometimes to pallets, sometimes not) or stored in plastic bags.  My guess would be that the things in the garage were in general never used after their acquisition, although some may well have been migrated out there after their useful lifespan was over. This is a GUESS.

I have no idea of the condition of any of it, or what was cannibalized as spares for other things; I can say that, in general, it’s been stored out of the weather and doesn’t seem to be water damaged or (for Tucson anyway) very dusty.

I (and the Kaur family, and everyone) make NO GUARANTEE AT ALL of the condition of any of this.  Everything here is sold WHERE IT IS and AS IT IS and it may or may not work or be restorable.  It is YOUR responsibility to pick it up, and if it can’t reasonably be restored, tough luck.  We don’t know, and the one man in the world who DID know is not in any condition at the moment to tell us.

As you might expect from a bulk-mailing business, this collection is super-heavy on printers and various paper-handling devices, as well as tape drives.  These are things I know almost nothing about: I have mostly collected 8-bit micros and videogame systems, and only recently have started acquiring and restoring DEC equipment.

There may well be pictures of things Kristina doesn’t want to include as part of this lot—all the more modern printers and paper-handling stuff is destined for people in the printing-and-mailing world in Tucson.  But there’s an awful lot of stuff here where “uh, it looks like a lineprinter to me, and maybe you connect it to a PDP-11?” or “that’s probably a disk drive?” or “it’s a controller for _something_.”

So among the things I’m asking you to do is to please help identify what I took pictures of.  I’ll call out the things I find particularly interesting and baffling.

I have already offered first pick of the manuals to Al Kossow and bitsavers.org, the Living Computer Museum and Labs, and Jason Scott at the Internet Archives, since that is likelier to get them scanned and preserved than if they just vanish into people’s private collections.  The LCML has indicated interest, and I have not heard back yet from the other two.  If there’s something from the manual collection you particularly want, and one of those three also wants it, you will probably have to work it out with them.  Most of the manuals seem to be for fairly major software, which I suspect (but have not looked to check) that bitsavers already has a copy of.

Kristina asks that you please put together a proposal for what you would like from the collection BY MAY 31, and please use the form on “Equipment Proposal v2.docx”  (https://drive.google.com/open?id=1oJFVg8MsTie3e3fpdzmfoWmIuQo96aQP <https://drive.google.com/open?id=1oJFVg8MsTie3e3fpdzmfoWmIuQo96aQP>) to do that.  She and her family’s lawyers will evaluate the various received proposals and she will decide on a division of items.

The pictures I took—and many of them are terrible.  In many cases I don’t know what I was looking at, and in other cases, the items were not in convenient spots to photograph; sometimes both.  

All are in the folder at https://drive.google.com/open?id=1kECm7hiYComNDTrLEwPPKIdIZ3MqKJ6y <https://drive.google.com/open?id=1kECm7hiYComNDTrLEwPPKIdIZ3MqKJ6y> .

My inventory of these things is in CSV form at https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Xv5aYu9tE3BUYZOicgJTTJhrDhy2ci89 <https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Xv5aYu9tE3BUYZOicgJTTJhrDhy2ci89> and in slightly-better-looking Numbers (a Mac spreadsheet) form at https://drive.google.com/open?id=15i1hEKjB108cq4g4B7c7gNpn-HDbgRIi <https://drive.google.com/open?id=15i1hEKjB108cq4g4B7c7gNpn-HDbgRIi> .

I make no representation as to its accuracy—it’s just the best I could do in the time I had available.  For most of the items, there is both a line number (some numbers are missing: this is intentional.  They correspond to which spreadsheet line it is, and there are some blank ones) and a reference to the picture of said item, which is the filename (i.e. “IMG_2xxx.JPG”) in the folder.  I didn’t bother to do image IDs for the manuals—they are mostly in order, and I figure everyone can read, so matching the title to the image is generally straightforward.

A few notes about the items.  It looks to me—and I could be wrong—that there are two PDP-11 systems in the garage.  One is obviously an 11/45, and judging from the structure of the panel, the other is some kind of 11/70, but I’ve never seen a front panel quite like this: https://drive.google.com/open?id=15i1hEKjB108cq4g4B7c7gNpn-HDbgRIi <https://drive.google.com/open?id=15i1hEKjB108cq4g4B7c7gNpn-HDbgRIi> .  Based on the fact that there are two Datasystem 570s out in the warehouse, I suspect it’s a Datasystem with a Frankensteined front panel, but I don’t know.  I think that basically it’s two two-cabinet systems, each with a CPU and a disk in one cabinet and a tape drive in the other cabinet, but again, I’m not sure.

I have no idea whether the pair of Datasystem 570s in the warehouse are intact or not.  There are also three VAXes out there, one 11/750 and two 11/730s.  One of the 11/730s clearly has an attached RL02, but I don’t know about the other two.  Most of the stuff out there, generally, looks like it’s in good shape in the sense that it was put in the warehouse, often in shrink-wrap, and not exposed to light or weather for a long time.  Sometimes a very long time.

I am quite curious about what the Sun Microsystems item (https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ZLpoP6ZoHfs3_dvdOFkv9uy68X29OSjV <https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ZLpoP6ZoHfs3_dvdOFkv9uy68X29OSjV>) is—I couldn’t really get to it, and it’s about the right size and shape for a 3/160, but it could also easily be something like a tape drive that Sun OEMed.  It has a plate on it identifying it as part of an “IRAF” system, and what I know about IRAF is that it’s astronomical software (I am helping design something that the LSST project hopes is a ubiquitous successor to it, sort of), and so I kinda suspect this came out of the astronomy department or Steward Observatory at UA.

There are no pictures of the 13-or-so Decwriters in the warehouse: they’re on a shelf about 10 feet up and you’re going to need either a forklift to get them down, or be extraordinarily brave.  The ADM-3A (well, I think.  It’s obviously an ADM terminal, and these match my mental image of 3As, but I could be wrong about the model) was obviously the terminal of choice here and there are a dozen or so.  Sorry about that, VT-xxx fans.

Again: PLEASE DO NOT WRITE KRISTINA OR ME directly with your offers.  Use the contact form and send your proposal to laura at rubinbernsteinlaw.com <mailto:laura at rubinbernsteinlaw.com> .

I hope this is useful to folks.


Please find the “Description” column of the items here below; the spreadsheet is available from the link above.

CDC 9766 #1
CDC 9766 #2
Disks for same system?
System Industries 9400 Controller
Kennedy 9401 Tape Drive
Mystery printer
Lineprinter #1
Zoom Modem
Another System Industries 9400 Controller
Lineprinter #2
ADM/3A(?) #1
ADM/3A #2
ADM/3A #3
ADM/3A #4
Hitachi V-1050F Oscilloscope

PDP Datasystem 570 (11/70) #1
PDP Datasystem 570 (11/70) #2
Vax 11/730 w/RL02 disk
Pertech Tape drive #1
Pertec Tape Drive #2
Vax 11/750(?)
Dec Magtape TE16 9-channel
Vax 11/730
RM-80 DEC Disk Drive
Cipher Systems disk drive (?)
CDC disk drives (?)
Kennedy 9400 controller
ADM/3A #5
#14 (… +?)
Prime 300 MB disk drive #1
Prime 300 MB disk drive #1
PDP-11 panel piece
Tektronix 502 Dual-Beam Oscilloscope
Sun Microsystems ???
IBM 029 Punch
Yet Another Lineprinter
Cabinet full of University Of Arizona Punchcards
Acoustic-coupled modem
Decwriter #1
Decwriter #2
Decwriter #3
Decwriter #4
Decwriter #5
Decwriter #6
Decwriter #7
Decwriter #8
Decwriter #9
Decwriter #10
Decwriter #11
Decwriter #12
Decwriter #13 (…+?)

ODT-11R Debugging Program, PIP File Utility Package, Link-11 Linker and   Libr-11 Librarian
PDP-11 Filedump Utility Program
PDP-11 Disk Operating System Monitor Programmer's Handbook
MACRO-11 Manual
PDP-11 TECO User's Guide (binder)
BATCH-11 User's Guide
PDP-11 FORTRAN IV Compiler and Object Time System Programmer's Manual (binder)
PDP-11 Programming Fundamentals
VT-100 Technical Manual
VT-100 User Guide
WS200 Series Word Processing Computer System
CSS Products KMD11-C Multipline DDCMP Multiplexer
Digital Standard MUMPS DSM-11 Technical Summary
Something New Is Sweeping The World Of Educational Computing
PDP-11 TECO User's Guide
VAX-11/750 marketing slick
MA780 Multiport memory marketing
DEC Datasystem 500 Indent Guide
FMS-11 Forms Management System
DIGITAL Software Product Description Jan 1986
PDP-11 RSTS v7.0 Release Notes
RT-11 Programmer's Reference Manual
RT-11 Software Support Manual
FORTRAN IV Enhanced Character Graphics
Programmable Data Processor Yesterday and Today
PDP-11 FORTRAN IV Compiler Technical Specification
PDP-11 Device Driver Package for Monitor Version v008A October 1972
Computer Engineering: A DEC view of Hardware Systems Design
PDP-11 RSTS/E v7.0 Release Notes for the RM05
RSTS/E v7.0 Documentation Directory
FORTRAN IV-Plus User's Guide
PDP-11 FORTRAN-IV Compiler and Object Time System Programmer's Manual
PDP-11 Disk Operating System Monitor User's Manual
DOS/BATCH FORTRAN Compiler and Object Time System
PDP-11 BATCH user's guide
Introducing the PDP-11/44
EDIT manual
RSTS/E Text Editor Manual
another PDP-11 FORTRAN-IV Compiler and Object Time System Programmer's Manual
RSTS-11 System Manager's Guide
DOS/BATCH Debugging Program (ODT-11R) Programmer's Manual
PDP-11 Software Price List March 1973
DEC Newsflash
BASIC-11 Language Reference Manual
RT-11 Manual
1975 Special Decus Issue Technical Documentation
PDP Systems and Options Catalog 1989 Jan-June
BATCH-11/DOS-11 Assembler (MACRO-11)
A General Purpose System for Interfacing a PDP-8 Computer to Pulse Counting Experiment (DECUSCOPE)
Introduction to RSX-11M
RSX-11D Guide to Writing a Device Handler Task
VAX Software Handbook
VAX11 Architecture Handbook
VAX11/780 Hardware Handbook
RSTS/E RUNOFF User's Guide
Wespercorp DEC TM11-Compatible Tape Controller Diagnostic Manual
Wespercorp Model TC-131 Tape Controller Hardware Manual
Wespercorp Model TC-131 Tape Controller Logic Manual
BATCH-11/DOS-11 Debugging Program (ODT-11R)
PDP-11 BASIC Programming Manual (Single User, Paper Tape Software)
PDP-11 PAL-11S Assembler and LINK-11S Linker Programmer's Manual
PDP-11 Edit-11 Text Editor Programmer's Manual
PDP-11 FORTRAN Language Reference Manual
PDP-11 FORTRAN Language Reference Manual (#2)
BATCH-11/DOS-11 Edit-11 Text Editor Programmer's Manual
DOS/BATCH Text Editor (EDIT-11) Programmer's Manual
RSTS/E Text Editor Manual
another RSTS/E RUNOFF User's Guide
RSTS-11 System User's Guide
RSTS-11 System User's Guide Addendum RSTS Version 4B RSTS/E Version 5C (February 1975)
Computer Programs For Automatic Countouring (McIntyre et al)
FORTRAN IV Computer Program For Fitting Conserved Count Data….(Ondrick & Griffith)
FORTRAN IV CDC 6400 Computer Program to Analyze Subsurface Fold Geometry (Whitten)

More information about the cctalk mailing list