[TUHS] Reaction to the 3B2 at Bell Labs

Rob Pike robpike at gmail.com
Sun Nov 27 06:42:38 AEST 2022

It was not popular with CS Research, and we were not popular with them. We
were using VAXes, which the 3B series were attempting to compete against.
The VAX was not exactly graceful, architecturally, but the 3B series was
clumsier and less cost-effective. We weren't interested, despite frequently
applied pressure.

And, although a different topic, there was the way the commercialization of
the Blit forced the 68000 to be replaced by the BELLMAC-32 by essentially
the same people, or at least the same boss (Scanlon), which was a poor
decision on every dimension. The idea was to get BELLMACs out there to
drive up production, but the chip was far less suitable, and each one cost
about what a full Blit with a 68000 instead would have. A loss leader, bad
financially and bad technically.

On the other hand, as I resullt of I did port an OS and other software to
the BELLMAC-32 as a result of this work, and learned how badly it did
things like memory management and the interrupt vector setup, and how buggy
it was.

So there were not many warm feelings between 1127 and the computer division.


On Sun, Nov 27, 2022 at 7:05 AM Seth Morabito <web at loomcom.com> wrote:

> On Sat, Nov 26, 2022, at 11:18 AM, Larry McVoy wrote:
> > On Sat, Nov 26, 2022 at 10:46:33AM -0800, Seth Morabito wrote:
> >> Can anyone recall what the general mood was regarding the 3B2 (and the
> 7300 and the 6300, I suppose!)
> >
> > If the 7300 was the 3B1, M68K, I had one of those and a good friend also
> > had one.  It was a huge step up from a CP/M machine which was my
> > previous machine.  I liked it a lot.
> >
> > But I wasn't at Bell Labs so perhaps this isn't the info you want.  I got
> > the sense that the 3B2 was not very popular anywhere.
> It was definitely a weird beast. I'm only "fond" of it in the loosest
> possible sense because I spent so much time trying to understand its
> internals. It was the perfect combination of too slow, too low specs, and
> too expensive!
> I think one of my slides will simply say "IT WAS BAD AT BEING A COMPUTER"
> -Seth
> --
>   Seth Morabito
>   Poulsbo, WA
>   web at loomcom.com
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