GBell's CyberMuseum for Digital Equipment Corp (DEC): Documents, Photo Albums, Talks, and Videotapes about Computing History

Minicomputer Industry Overview and Formation

Observations about the formation and evolution of the minicomputer industry was a key data-point in the formation of Bell's Law that minis typify.
Bell's Law of Computer Classes and Class formation was first described in 1972 with the emergence of a new, lower priced microcomputer class based on the microprocessor. Established market class computers are introduced at a constant price with increasing functionality (or performance). Technology advances in semiconductors, storage, interfaces and networks enable a new computer class (platform) to form about every decade to serve a new need. Each new usually lower priced class is maintained as a quasi independent industry (market). Classes include: mainframes (60's), minicomputers (70's), networked workstations and personal computers (80's), browser-web-server structure (90's), web services (2000's), palm computing (1995), convergence of cell phones and computers (2003), and Wireless Sensor Networks aka motes (2004). Beginning in the 1990s, a single class of scalable computers called clusters built from a few to tens of thousands of commodity microcomputer-storage-networked bricks began to cover and replace mainframes, minis, and workstation. Bell predicts home and body area networks will form by 2010. See also the description of several laws (e.g. Moore's, Metcalfes's,  Nathan's, Bill's, Bell's) that govern the computer industry is given in Laws, a talk by Jim Gray and Gordon Bell.

With scalable computers, minis per se are nearly all being replaced by clustered, scalable computers i.e. computers formed from simple computers such as a PC that are interconnected via high speed networks. Clusters cover a range from a few to eventually over a million, independent processors in a "scaled out" configuration. The mini we knew and love c2000 built by HP, IBM, and SUN that cost $100,000 to $1 Million evolved to be a scaled out "multi" or multiple, shared memory computer as I described in Bell, C. G., "Multis: A New Class of Multiprocessor Computers", Science, Vol. 228, pp. 462-467 (April 26, 1985).

Historical Overview of Digital aka DEC

DEC Engineering and Process Documents

Digital Equipment Corporation Machine and Programming Manuals 

Papers and Memos

Articles and Product Announcements

PowerPoint Albums and Talks of Computing History from a Digital viewpoint

Netshow Videos and Videotapes

Biographical Material including Interviews, etc.


The following books were encoded at Carnegie-Mellon University and hosted at their Universal Library

Other books to come...

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