[TUHS] Jerq menuhit/mhit

Norman Wilson norman at oclsc.org
Mon Jul 3 01:14:45 AEST 2023

I had an experience similar to Tom London's:

	To: alice!rob
	Subject: you've spoiled me

	I can't believe it.  I'm sitting here at home in front of my
	2621, and I can't work.

	Damn it.  I've got to get a blit at home.

When I left Bell Labs, I had an X11 workstation at work, but
only a simple terminal at home.  Having used a Jerqblit5620 for
years at both work and home, I found it incredibly limiting.

After a year or so I came across a reseller who had a lot of
off-lease 5620s for sale cheap (like USD 150 or so each).  I
asked around the university I now worked at, found a handful
of other people who wanted in, and then a local small company
who did System V system-administration consulting who wanted
some for themselves, and were willing to handle all the paperwork.
All that allowed us to negotiate the price down even more.

In the end I bought six, of which I think four are still working,
though I haven't turned any of them on for years.

None of the Unixes I used at the time came with 5620 support,
but the protocol for the basic window system built into the ROM
was well-documented and I managed to roll my own host support.
I also managed to cobble up my own binary-loading tools sufficient
to get sam working (I forget how I compiled the binary for the
terminal); that was rather more work, but it was worth it to
be able to have sam and multiple windows from home, even though
it was the ROM OS and therefore mpx rather than mux.

I remember porting my version of the host code to Ultrix,
SunOS 4, and IRIX.

My workplace at the time had a little bit of VAX/VMS around.
I didn't use that much but wanted to try porting my host code
to VMS as well.  VMS had had a C compiler for some years and
some sort of pseudo-terminal for a shorter time, so it ought
to have been possible.  I didn't get around to it before we
finally left VMS behind in the dustbin of history.  I wish I'd
found time to do it, just to show that there really was nothing
Unix-specific about the idea or the implementation.  It's just
a multiplexing protocol; it needs no kernel support except that
needed to run a command-line session not attached to a physical
terminal, and networking has long since made that available on
any competent OS.

Norman Wilson
Toronto ON

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