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Encyclopedia > Minicomputer

Minicomputer (colloquially, mini) is a largely obsolete term for a class of multi-user computers which make up the middle range of the computing spectrum, in between the largest multi-user systems (traditionally, mainframe computers) and the smallest single-user systems (microcomputers or personal computers). More modern terms for such machines include midrange systems (common in IBM parlance), workstations (common in Sun Microsystems and general UNIX/Linux parlance), and servers. A BlueGene supercomputer cabinet. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The Commodore 64 was one of the most popular microcomputers of its era, and is the best selling home computer of all time. ... Midrange computer is a designation used by IBM for a class of computer systems which fall in between mainframes and microcomputers. ... International Business Machines Corporation (known as IBM or Big Blue; NYSE: IBM) is a multinational computer technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, USA. The company is one of the few information technology companies with a continuous history dating back to the 19th century. ... SGI O2 Workstation A computer workstation, often colloquially referred to as workstation, is a high-end general-purpose microcomputer designed to be used by one person at a time and which offers higher performance than normally found in a personal computer, especially with respect to graphics, processing power and the... Sun Microsystems, Inc. ... Filiation of Unix and Unix-like systems Unix (officially trademarked as UNIX®) is a computer operating system originally developed in the 1960s and 1970s by a group of AT&T employees at Bell Labs including Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and Douglas McIlroy. ... Linux (IPA pronunciation: ) is a Unix-like computer operating system. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ...

Contents

History

1960s: Origin; 1970s: Market entrenchment

The term “minicomputer” evolved in the 1960s to describe the “small” third generation computers that became possible with the use of transistor and core memory technologies. The term came in fashion about the same time as the miniskirt and mini cars. They usually took up one or a few cabinets the size of a large refrigerator or two, compared with mainframes that would usually fill a room. The first successful minicomputer was Digital Equipment Corporation’s 12-bit PDP-8, which cost from US$16,000 upwards when launched in 1964. The important precursors of the PDP-8 include the PDP-5, LINC, the TX-0, the TX-2, and the PDP-1. The 1960s decade refers to the years from January 1, 1960 to December 31, 1969, inclusive. ... Assorted discrete transistors A transistor is a semiconductor device, commonly used as an amplifier. ... A 16×16 cm area core memory plane of 128×128 bits, i. ... A woman modelling a miniskirt The miniskirt (often hyphenated as mini-skirt) is a skirt with a hemline well above the knees (generally 20 cm - about 8 inches - or more above knee level). ... For the new MINI, see MINI (BMW). ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The DEC logo Digital Equipment Corporation was a pioneering American company in the computer industry. ... A PDP-8 on display at the Smithsonians National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.. This example is from the first generation of PDP-8s, built with discrete transistors and later known as the Straight 8. ... ISO 4217 Code USD User(s) the United States, the British Indian Ocean Territory,[1] the British Virgin Islands, Cambodia, East Timor, Ecuador, El Salvador, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, Panama, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the insular areas of the United States Inflation 2. ... 1964 (MCMLXIV) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (the link is to a full 1964 calendar). ... The LINC (Laboratory Instrument Computer) was a 12-bit, 2048-word computer. ... The TX-0, for Transistorized Experimental computer zero but affectionately referred to as the tixo, was the first fully transistorized computer to enter service and contained a then-huge 64K of 18-bit words of core memory. ... The MIT Lincoln Laboratory TX-2 computer was the successor to the Lincoln TX-0 and was known for its role in advancing both artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction. ... The PDP-1 (Programmed Data Processor-1) was the first computer in Digital Equipments PDP series and was first produced in 1960. ...


The 7400 series of TTL integrated circuits started appearing in minicomputers in the late 1960s. The 74181 arithmetic-logic unit (ALU) was commonly used in the CPU data paths. Each 74181 had a bus width of four bits, hence the popularity of bit-slice architecture. The 7400 series offered data-selectors, multiplexers, three-state buffers, memories, etc. in dual in-line packages with one-tenth inch spacing, making major system components and architecture evident to the naked eye. (Starting in the 1980s, many minicomputers used VLSI circuits (Very Large Scale Integration), often making the hardware organization much less apparent.) The 7400 chip, containing four NANDs. ... A Motorola 68000-based computer with various TTL chips. ... Integrated circuit of Atmel Diopsis 740 System on Chip showing memory blocks, logic and input/output pads around the periphery Microchips with a transparent window, showing the integrated circuit inside. ... 1960 (MCMLX) was a leap year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1960 calendar). ... The arithmetic logic unit/arithmetic-logic unit (ALU) of a computers CPU is a part of the execution unit, a core component of all CPUs. ... Die of an Intel 80486DX2 microprocessor (actual size: 12×6. ... Schematic of a 2-to-1 Multiplexer. ... ICs in DIP14-Package Several PDIPs and CERDIPS. The large CERDIP in the foreground is an 8080 processor. ... Year 1980 (MCMLXXX) was a leap year starting on Tuesday (link displays the 1980 Gregorian calendar). ... Very-large-scale integration (VLSI) of systems of transistor-based circuits into integrated circuits on a single chip first occurred in the 1980s as part of the semiconductor and communication technologies that were being developed. ...


As microcomputers developed in the 1970s and 80s, minicomputers filled the mid-range area between low powered microcomputers and high capacity mainframes. At the time microcomputers were single-user, relatively simple machines running simple program-launcher operating systems like CP/M or MS-DOS, while minis were much more powerful systems that ran full multi-user, multitasking operating systems like VMS and Unix, often with timesharing versions of BASIC for application development (MAI Basic 4 systems being very popular in that regard). The classical mini was a 16-bit computer, while the emerging higher performance 32-bit minis were often referred to as superminis. The 1970s decade refers to the years from 1970 to 1979. ... This article cites very few or no references or sources. ... CP/M (Command Processor for Microcomputers) was an operating system for Intel 8080/85 and Zilog Z80 based microcomputers. ... Microsofts disk operating system, MS-DOS, was Microsofts implementation of DOS, which was the first popular operating system for the IBM PC, and until recently, was widely used on the PC compatible platform. ... OpenVMS[1] (Open Virtual Memory System or just VMS) is the name of a high-end computer server operating system that runs on the VAX[2] and Alpha[3] family of computers developed by Digital Equipment Corporation of Maynard, Massachusetts (DIGITAL was then purchased by Compaq, and is now owned... Filiation of Unix and Unix-like systems Unix (officially trademarked as UNIX®) is a computer operating system originally developed in the 1960s and 1970s by a group of AT&T employees at Bell Labs including Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and Douglas McIlroy. ... Alternate uses: see Timesharing Time-sharing is an approach to interactive computing in which a single computer is used to provide apparently simultaneous interactive general-purpose computing to multiple users by sharing processor time. ... Screenshot of Atari BASIC, an early BASIC language for small computers. ... In computer science, 16-bit is an adjective used to describe integers that are at most two bytes wide, or to describe CPU architectures based on registers, address buses, or data buses of that size. ... 32-bit is a term applied to processors, and computer architectures which manipulate the address and data in 32-bit chunks. ... A supermini can be: A car size class used in Europe. ...


Mid-1980s, 1990s: The minis give way to the micros

The decline of the minis happened due to the lower cost of microprocessor based hardware, the emergence of inexpensive and easily deployable local area network systems, and the desire of end-users to be less reliant on inflexible minicomputer manufacturers and IT departments/“data centers”—with the result that minicomputers and dumb terminals were replaced by networked workstations and PCs in the latter half of the 1980s. Computer hardware is the physical part of a computer, including the digital circuitry, as distinguished from the computer software that executes within the hardware. ... Local area network scheme A local area network is a computer network covering a small geographic area, like a home, office, or group of buildings. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Data terminal. ... Sun SPARCstation 1+, 25mhz RISC processor from early 1990s A workstation, such as a Unix workstation, RISC workstation or engineering workstation, is a high-end desktop or deskside microcomputer designed for technical applications. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... This article cites very few or no references or sources. ...


During the 1990s the change from minicomputers to inexpensive PC networks was cemented by the development of several versions of Unix to run on the Intel x86 microprocessor architecture, including Solaris, Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD. Also, the Microsoft Windows series of operating systems now includes server versions that support preemptive multitasking and other features required for servers, beginning with Windows NT. For the band, see 1990s (band). ... Filiation of Unix and Unix-like systems Unix (officially trademarked as UNIX®) is a computer operating system originally developed in the 1960s and 1970s by a group of AT&T employees at Bell Labs including Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and Douglas McIlroy. ... Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC, SEHK: 4335), founded in 1968 as Integrated Electronics Corporation, is an American multinational corporation that is best known for designing and manufacturing microprocessors and specialized integrated circuits. ... x86 or 80x86 is the generic name of a microprocessor architecture first developed and manufactured by Intel. ... A typical vision of a computer architecture as a series of abstraction layers: hardware, firmware, assembler, kernel, operating system and applications (see also Tanenbaum 79). ... Solaris is a computer operating system developed by Sun Microsystems. ... Linux (IPA pronunciation: ) is a Unix-like computer operating system. ... FreeBSD is a Unix-like free operating system descended from AT&T UNIX via the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) branch through the 386BSD and 4. ... NetBSD is a freely redistributable, open source version of the Unix-like BSD computer operating system. ... OpenBSD is a freely available Unix-like computer operating system descended from Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD), a Unix derivative developed at the University of California, Berkeley. ... Windows NT is a family of operating systems produced by Microsoft, the first version of which was released in July 1993. ...


As microprocessors have become more powerful, CPUs built up from multiple components—once the distinguishing feature differentiating mainframes and midrange systems from microcomputers—have become increasingly obsolete, even in the largest mainframe computers. A microprocessor is a programmable digital electronic component that incorporates the functions of a central processing unit (CPU) on a single semiconducting integrated circuit (IC). ... Die of an Intel 80486DX2 microprocessor (actual size: 12×6. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


Digital Equipment Corporation was the leading minicomputer manufacturer, at one time the 2nd largest computer company after IBM. But as the minicomputer declined in the face of generic UNIX servers and Intel based PCs, not only DEC, but almost every other minicomputer company including Data General, Prime, Computervision, Honeywell and Wang Computer, many based in New England also collapsed. DEC was sold to Compaq in 1998. The DEC logo Digital Equipment Corporation was a pioneering American company in the computer industry. ... International Business Machines Corporation (known as IBM or Big Blue; NYSE: IBM) is a multinational computer technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, USA. The company is one of the few information technology companies with a continuous history dating back to the 19th century. ... Data General was one of the first minicomputer firms from the late 1960s. ... Prime Computer was a Natick, Massachusetts-based producer of minicomputers from 1972 until 1992. ... Computervision, Inc. ... Honeywell Heating Specialties Company Stock Certificate dated 1924 signed by Mark C. Honeywell - courtesy of Scripophily. ... This article is about the region in the United States of America. ...


The minicomputer’s industrial impact and heritage

Several pioneering computer companies first built minicomputers, such as DEC, Data General, and Hewlett-Packard (HP) (who now refers to its HP3000 minicomputers as “servers” rather than “minicomputers”). And although today’s PCs and servers are clearly microcomputers physically, architecturally their CPUs and operating systems have evolved largely by integrating features from minicomputers. Data General was one of the first minicomputer firms from the late 1960s. ... The Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE: HPQ), commonly known as HP, is a very large, global company headquartered in Palo Alto, California, United States. ...


In the software context, the relatively simple OSs for early minicomputers were usually inspired by minicomputer OSs (such as CP/M by RSTS) and multiuser OSs of today are often either inspired by or directly descended from minicomputer OSs (UNIX was originally a minicomputer OS)


List of some notable minicomputers

Control Data Corporation, or CDC, was one of the pioneering supercomputer firms. ... The CDC 160 and CDC 160-A were 12-bit minicomputers built by Control Data Corporation from the late 1950s, through the mid-1960s. ... The CDC 1700 was a 16-bit word minicomputer, manufactured by the Control Data Corporation with deliveries beginning in May, 1966. ... The DEC logo Digital Equipment Corporation was a pioneering American company in the computer industry. ... Programmed Data Processor (abbreviated PDP) was the name of a series of computers, several of them ground-breaking and very influential, made by Digital Equipment Corporation. ... VAX is a 32-bit computing architecture that supports an orthogonal instruction set (machine language) and virtual addressing (i. ... Data General was one of the first minicomputer firms from the late 1960s. ... Data General SuperNova The Data General Nova was a popular 16-bit minicomputer built by the United States company Data General starting in 1969. ... The Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE: HPQ), commonly known as HP, is a very large, global company headquartered in Palo Alto, California, United States. ... The Hewlett-Packard 3000 series is a family of minicomputers released by the company in 1973 after a difficult development project. ... Honeywell Heating Specialties Company Stock Certificate dated 1924 signed by Mark C. Honeywell - courtesy of Scripophily. ... Groupe Bull (also known as Bull Computer or, informally, as Bull) is a French computer company based in Paris. ... International Business Machines Corporation (known as IBM or Big Blue; NYSE: IBM) is a multinational computer technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, USA. The company is one of the few information technology companies with a continuous history dating back to the 19th century. ... Midrange computer is a designation used by IBM for a class of computer systems which fall in between mainframes and microcomputers. ... The characteristical ND dotted logo used from 1973 Norsk Data was a (mini-)computer manufacturer located in Oslo, Norway. ... Prime Computer was a Natick, Massachusetts-based producer of minicomputers from 1972 until 1992. ... Scientific Data Systems, or SDS, was a computer company founded in September 1961 by Max Palevsky, a veteran of Packard Bell and Bendix, along with eleven other computer scientists. ... Wang logo circa 1976. ...

See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
Minicomputer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (601 words)
Minicomputer (colloquially, mini) is a largely obsolete term for a class of multi-user computers which make up the middle range of the computing spectrum, in between the largest multi-user systems (traditionally, mainframe computers) and the smallest single-user systems (microcomputers or personal computers).
The term "minicomputer" evolved in the 1960s to describe the "small" third generation computers that became possible with the use of transistor and core memory technologies.
During the 1990s the change from minicomputers to inexpensive PC networks was cemented by the development of several versions of Unix to run on the Intel x86 microprocessor architecture, including Solaris, Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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