The SUN workstation was a modular computer system designed at Stanford University in the early 1980s. It became the seed technology for many commercial products, including the original workstations from Sun Microsystems.
In 1979 Xerox donated some Alto computers, developed at their Palo Alto Research Center, to Stanford's Computer Science Department, as well as other universities that were developing the early Internet. The Altos were connected using Ethernet to form several local area networks. The SUN's design was inspired by that of the Alto, but used lower-cost modular components.The project name was derived from the initials of the campus' Stanford University Network.
Professor Forest Baskett suggested the best-known configuration: a relatively low-cost personal workstation for computer-aided logic design work. The design created a 3M computer: a 1 million instructions per second (MIPS) processor, 1 Megabyte of memory and a 1 Megapixel raster scan bit-map graphics display. Sometimes the $10,000 estimated price was called the fourth "M" — a "Megapenny".Director of Computer Facilities Ralph Gorin suggested other configurations and initially funded the project. Graduate student Andy Bechtolsheim designed the hardware, with several other students and staff members assisting with software and other aspects of the project. Vaughan Pratt became unofficial faculty leader of the project in 1980.
Three key technologies made the SUN workstation possible: very large-scale integration (VLSI) integrated circuits, Multibus and ECAD. ECAD (Electronic Computer Assisted Design, now known as Electronic design automation) allowed a single designer to quickly develop systems of greater complexity. The Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL) had pioneered personal display terminals, but the 1971 system was showing its age. Bechtolsheim used the Stanford University Drawing System (SUDS) to design the SUN boards on the SAIL system. SUDS had been originally developed for the Foonly computer.The Structured Computer Aided Logic Design (SCALD) package was then used to verify the design, automate layout and produce wire-wrapped prototypes and then printed circuit boards.
VLSI integrated circuits finally allowed for a high-level of hardware functionality to be included in a single chip. The graphics display controller was the first board designed, published in 1980.A Motorola 68000 CPU, along with memory, a parallel port controller and a serial port controller, were included on the main CPU board designed by Bechtolsheim. The third board was an interface to the 2.94 Mbits/second experimental Ethernet (before the speed was standardized at 10 Mbits/second).
The Multibus computer interface made it possible to use standard enclosures, and to use circuit boards made by different vendors to create other configurations. For example, the CPU board combined with a multi-port serial controller created a terminal server (called a TIP, for Terminal Interface Processor) which connected many terminals to the Digital Equipment Corporation time-sharing systems at Stanford or anywhere on the Internet. Configuring multiple Ethernet controllers (including commercial ones, once they were available) with one CPU board created a router. William Yeager wrote the software, which was later adopted and evolved by Cisco Systems on its version of the hardware. Les Earnest licensed the CPU board for one of the first commercial low-cost laser printer controllers at a company called Imagen.The processor board was combined with a prototype high performance graphics display by students of James H. Clark. That group later formed Silicon Graphics Incorporated.
Eventually about ten SUN workstations were built during 1981 and 1982, after which Stanford declined to build any more. Bechtolsheim then licensed the hardware design to several vendors, but was frustrated that none of them had chosen to build a workstation.:
Vinod Khosla, also from Stanford, convinced Bechtolsheim along with Scott McNealy to found Sun Microsystems in order to build the Sun-1 workstation, which included some improvements to the earlier design.
Other faculty members who did research using SUN workstations included David Cheriton, Brian Reid, and John Hennessy.
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Sun Microsystems, Inc. was an American company that sold computers, computer components, software, and information technology services and created the Java programming language, the Solaris operating system, ZFS, the Network File System (NFS), and SPARC microprocessors. Sun contributed significantly to the evolution of several key computing technologies, among them Unix, RISC processors, thin client computing, and virtualized computing. Sun was founded on February 24, 1982. At its height, the Sun headquarters were in Santa Clara, California, on the former west campus of the Agnews Developmental Center.
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SBus is a computer bus system that was used in most SPARC-based computers from Sun Microsystems and others during the 1990s. It was introduced by Sun in 1989 to be a high-speed bus counterpart to their high-speed SPARC processors, replacing the earlier VMEbus used in their Motorola 68020- and 68030-based systems and early SPARC boxes. When Sun moved to open the SPARC definition in the early 1990s, SBus was likewise standardized and became IEEE-1496. In 1997 Sun started to migrate away from SBus to the Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) bus, and today SBus is no longer used.
Andreas Maria Maximilian Freiherr von Mauchenheim genannt Bechtolsheim is a German electrical engineer, entrepreneur, investor, and billionaire. He co-founded Sun Microsystems in 1982 and was its chief hardware designer. He later became an investor, providing Sergey Brin and Larry Page with their first round of funding, a $100,000 investment in 1998 before the two had even incorporated their company, Google. His net worth reached $7 billion in September 2018.
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Computervision, Inc. (CV) was an early pioneer in Computer Aided Design and Manufacturing (CAD/CAM). Computervision was founded in 1969 by Marty Allen and Philippe Villers, and headquartered in Bedford, Massachusetts, United States. Its early products were built on a Data General Nova platform. Starting around 1975, Computervision built its own "CGP" Nova-compatible 16-bit computers with added instructions optimized for graphics applications and using its own operating system known as Computervision Graphic Operating System (CGOS). In the 1980s, Computervision rewrote their code to operate on Unix-based platforms.
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Multibus is a computer bus standard used in industrial systems. It was developed by Intel Corporation and was adopted as the IEEE 796 bus.
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The Sun-2 series of UNIX workstations and servers was launched by Sun Microsystems in November 1983. As the name suggests, the Sun-2 represented the second generation of Sun systems, superseding the original Sun-1 series. The Sun-2 series used a 10 MHz Motorola 68010 microprocessor with a proprietary Sun-2 Memory Management Unit (MMU), which enabled it to be the first Sun architecture to run a full virtual memory UNIX implementation, SunOS 1.0, based on 4.1BSD. Early Sun-2 models were based on the Intel Multibus architecture, with later models using VMEbus, which continued to be used in the successor Sun-3 and Sun-4 families.
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Callan Data Systems, Inc. was an American computer manufacturer founded by David Callan in Westlake Village, California on January 24, 1980. The company was best known for their Unistar range of Unix workstations, and shut down again in 1985.
Xylogics or Xylogic Systems was started in 1970 by three former NASA employees. The company was originally named Xynetic Systems, but this name was already in use by a California company, so the group in Needham, MA changed their name in late 1970 to Xylogic Systems. Their original business was the design and development of computerized newspaper typesetting and editing systems. The first system was developed for the Daytona Beach News Journal, with the Farmington, NM newspaper getting the second system. By 1972, Xylogics had grown to more than 15 people, and moved to Natick, MA. The company used the GRI mini-computer, and custom designed many circuit boards to support disk drives, paper tape punches and readers, and automatic capture of newswire service feeds. By 1974, the company had developed a CRT editing station, and offered systems of up to 4 computers and more than 50 terminals for newspaper or in-plant publishing to perform editing and typesetting. About this time, a second division was created to design and build disk controllers for DEC computers, derived in part from the successful designs and manufacturing capability developed for the newspaper business. In 1976, a major customer of Xylogics, Dymo Graphics Systems, purchased the newspaper product line and hired most of the original developers. Dymo Graphics, of Wilmington, MA was the first company to develop laser technology for typesetting applications. Dymo Graphic Systems combined their typesetting equipment business with the Xylogics editing systems, and by 1978 had over 100 turnkey typesetting systems in use worldwide. The Xylogic Systems typesetting capability was the first with WYSIWYG printing capability for Tabloid size page layout, and later full page layout. Capability included on-line classified ad capture with automated pricing, in addition to full page markup and typesetting. In 1977, Dymo was purchased by Eselte Corporation, who wanted control of the highly successful "Dymo Label Maker" consumer product. Eselte sold the newspaper and typesetting business to ITEK corporation in 1978, who wanted the laser technology IP. ITEK declined support to the newspaper and typesetting business, and in 1979, the newspaper product development and manufacturing staff of 150 engineers, technicians, assemblers, and field support personnel had dwindled to 2 by January, 1980.
The Stanford University Network, also known as SUN, SUNet or SU-Net is the campus computer network for Stanford University.
Forest Baskett is an American venture capitalist, computer scientist and former professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University.