Kaur Collection Inventory

Ed C. edcross at gmail.com
Sat May 18 00:50:32 CDT 2019

This is very nice from you Adam, hats off. Thanks for putting this together.

On Sat, May 18, 2019 at 7:17 AM Adam Thornton via cctalk <
cctalk at classiccmp.org> wrote:

> 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
> 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 <http://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.
> Adam

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