On Fri, Aug 24, 2018 at 11:13 AM Seth Morabito <web@loomcom.com> wrote:
I've begun to wonder whether 3B2 hardware was used very much inside of Bell Labs. 

I'd be curious to hear of people that actually used it.  AT&T forced you to buy one with SVR3 as the porting base (I'd have never had bought the one we had a Stellar otherwise).   
The only time I ever knew anyone run one, was to check to see the behavior of some code/validation testing of RFS etc...

The HW as pretty slow/inflexible compared to 68020/68030 which came out around the same time, so it was just not interesting - i.e. 'JAWS' - Just another work station' and it did not have a display.  IIRC, it was a server and pretty inflexible in the I/O subsystem for that use.   
Sun would quickly produce the first Sparcs, which as Larry has pointed out, kicked butt
and were cheaper
.   The MIPS chip would emerge
with lots of designs,
and for that matter the 040 and the 386 would appear soon their after
, too.

I've always felt that the 3Bx series was an example of fighting the previous war; other than 3B4000 (which had high reliability but other issues in practice to use it), there was never anything that made them special - compared to everyone else.

The only 'successful' product 
that I
 that used the WE32100
was the
second version (
a.k.a. product version) of the Blit (Bart's first version was 68000 IIRC).  Does anyone know of another product?  I think I was told the 5ESS
 the SLICs
from the original 68000 design to WE32100 but I was no
longer associated with anyone working on it by then, so I don't know.

Dennis once remarked to a couple of us that the WE32100 was an example of AT&T wanting to make sure it had its own recipe to make processors, but it was not clear it was worth it.   BTW: around the same time both AT&T and HP were making their own DRAM too.  It was common thinking in management at tech companies - telling folks that they needed to be 'vertically integrated.'  But in the case of both HP and AT&T there internally produced DRAM chips cost 2-3 times what the merchant market cost; so besides the investment in the fab (which was huge) it was a pretty expensive insurance policy.

That said, this was also the end times for the idea of the 'second source.'   Chip manufacturers would be required to license their designs to some one else (for instance AMD was originally Intel's second source).   I think HP was using a second source license for their memory, but IIRC AT&T had developed its own because they had higher reliability standards.