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Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 12:49 am 
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Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:48 am
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I wanted to post this, to find out what reasons people have for collecting it - and actually to see if anyone else collects it like I do? Short able ahead..

I got my first SGI (an Indy) back in around 13 years ago from Ian Mapleson - I still have the email of the advert he'd drafted somewhere. A friend and I were at college and really getting into Linux and so forth back then. We got a lift off my dad, and we drove all the way up to his warehouse in Lincolnshire somewhere and entered into what could only be described as "nird-vana" - a huge industrial unit stuffed full of SGI workstations, NeXT cubes, and all kinds of awesome stuff. We put a pair of Indy's and matching 21" granite monitors into the boot of the car and drove home very happy. We both kept those systems for a few years, but never really actually USED them for anything productive. Just.. reinstalled them, played around with the 3D graphics apps, used them to telnet via to other boxes just for the novelty of using an SGI machine - but otherwise they did nothing. I eventually gave my Indy (and a subsequently acquired Indigo2) to a friend when I moved out as I had no room for them and pretty much gave up on SGI stuff.

After a few changes in my circumstances I came to be living alone again and began to seek out old hardware. The same friend re-gifted me an Indigo2 from his collection, I acquired an Indy from work, and also an O2 came up. The O2 took significant time to get working, but get it working I did (thankfully a few were being scrapped at the time and I managed to make a good one out of the spare hardware) - but since spending many late evenings at work, after office hours, just getting it working - I find myself doing the same thing with it. It boots, I play around with it a bit, but I don't actually use it for anything.

It seems for me the fascination is just with the machine itself, and to own these pieces of hardware that once cost tens of thousands of dollars and to know they're in good order and working. Is this a special kind of insanity, or do other folks own these for the same reason? I do all my normal day to day life stuff on Windows and OSX machines..

tl;dr - I don't actually do anything with IRIX - I just love the old hardware. And just getting a system bootable / usable is about as far as I go when I acquire old kit. Is it just me?

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Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 5:01 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:02 am
Posts: 75
Location: Northern Bavaria, Germany
I have a 180 MHz O2, a 300 MHz O2 and a 600 MHz Fuel and the following other MIPS-based computers:
Sony PSP (custom-firmware enabled), Routerboard RB532A (link: http://www.roc-noc.com/mikrotik/routerboard/rb532a.html) and ADM5120-based routers (http://www.linux-mips.org/wiki/Adm5120).
I started to concentrate on MIPS-based sgi hardware because of several reasons:

1. IO-device support for humans is better, for example
it is not possible to connect a monitor to the RB532A or to the ADM5120-based routers that I have.
2. They are the last working big-endian computers that I have. My Amiga stopped working more than 10 years ago
and my old Sun workstation only has a 40 MHz processor with monochrome screen. Sometimes I want to be
sure that my software runs on little-endian and big-endian computers.
3. I like the MIPS architecture more than ARM.
4. I like that there is no update hassle under Irix like under Windows.
5. I am using PIC32 microcontrollers for my paid work. Although PIC32 are little endian, it helps me to have
MIPS-based desktop computers when writing software for MIPS-based computers.

I know some people only collect sgi hardware because once upon a time their price was more than 10000 US$,
however for me this is no reason. I would use sgi hardware even if they would have been home computers
(like Amiga) before.

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:Fuel: 600 MHz, 2 GB RAM, 72 GB 15k RPM HD
:O2: 180 MHz


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Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 5:06 am 
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You are not alone. And for some people (me included), it is not only SGI stuff but also old cinema projectors, old industrial coffee machines, old pinball games, old swiss reel-to-reel machines, old tube amps, old Altec horn speakers etc. I wouldn't call it insanity but more of a slight mental disorder bordering on fetichism. There's an undeniable pleasure in getting out of scraps an old useless, very pricy, well-engineered, complicated and arguably beautiful mechanical/electronic thing and getting it to work as intended by researching documentation, gathering spare parts, tinkering with it endlessly etc. 8-)

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Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 5:36 am 
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Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2004 4:10 pm
Posts: 9562
chicaneuk wrote:
I wanted to post this, to find out what reasons people have for collecting it ...

I use* it because I like the way it works. Any collecting I do is just for spare parts.


* As in, like, you know, computing stuff. Everything I do is in Irix. Double-checked against Windows to make sure my work is not incomprehensible to other people. More people should try that ....

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Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 9:41 am 
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Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 5:22 am
Posts: 137
As I've mentioned in another thread, I was introduced to SGI machines at Teeside University's Virtual Reality centre. I marvelled over how sleek they looked and the kind of stuff they could do. They also had a couple of labs of Indys (and later O2s).

Around 2001, one of the guys from the VR centre I knew told me that they had decommissioned the labs of Indys. I secured 3 of them for free (one of which I gave to a friend). They were only R4600 133s with 128MB of RAM, but at last I had my very own Silicon Graphics machine! I loved playing around on one of the Indys (with the other as a spare). I still have both of them in a cupboard downstairs, although they haven't been powered up for years.

Then a couple of years after this, Teesside University decommissioned the lab of O2s and again, I managed to secure two of them (one working, one dead). I used the dead one to upgrade the working one (doubling the RAM to 256MB and putting 2 HDDs into it - all of which worked fine until DIMM slot 7 on the board failed recently, which is why I'm down to 192MB of RAM). My O2 was used a lot for a few years alongside my PC (with a second monitor) until lack of disk space and my shortage of money to upgrade it meant that it was put into storage.

Many years later after moving house, I acquired four 300GB hard drives from a server at work that was being binned, pulled the O2 back out and threw it back into service (with a massive HDD increase and an unfortunate RAM decrease), then discovered Nekochan!

I love doing random experimenting and playing around on my O2, playing music, those sort of things. Unfortunately the web has moved on a lot from the early 2000s, so whilst it could ably display old web pages, it's rather sluggish on modern ones. I'm also strongly looking at buying an Indigo 2 from Ian Mapleson myself as it's the SGI machine I covet the most and I'd love to have a nice purple one sitting on my desk :)

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Systems in use:
:Fuel: - Lithium: R14000 600MHz CPU, 4GB RAM, V10 Graphics, 36GB 15K HDD, IRIX 6.5.30
:Indigo2IMP: - Nitrogen: R10000 195MHz CPU, 256MB RAM, SolidIMPACT Graphics, 36GB 15K HDD & 300GB 10K HDD, New/quiet fans, IRIX 6.5.22
Other systems in storage: :O2: x 2, :Indy: x 2


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Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 11:56 am 
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Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:48 am
Posts: 86
Trippynet wrote:
I'm also strongly looking at buying an Indigo 2 from Ian Mapleson myself as it's the SGI machine I covet the most and I'd love to have a nice purple one sitting on my desk :)


I'm at the same point about wanting to buy an Octane now.. I'm hoping I might, again, be able to secure one from work but I'm just working out if I can come to terms in my mind with parting with a few hundred quid for an Octane that will essentially just become an ornament at home rather than a workstation that serves any other purpose. Thankfully logic seems to be winning for now and I doubt I'll pick up one now unless it's something being scrapped rather than something I need to part with money for!

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Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 12:23 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:12 pm
Posts: 893
Location: Sunny So Cal
The girls.

Really, the only SGI I wanted was the Indy (because I used one for a summer, and I remember lusting after one in uni), but after I got the Indy, I found I couldn't resist the Fuel. My computer collecting habit is either ones I have sentimental attachments to (Commodore 8-bit, Apple 8-bit, Tomy Tutor, Power Macs and 68K Macs), or computers I thought were awesome but couldn't afford when they were new (SGI, PA-RISC, RS/6000, SPARC, Amiga, many of the portables and handhelds).

I have less of an affinity for non-6502 8-bits, though I have some of those for completeness.

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smit happens.

:Fuel: bigred, 800MHz R16K, 4GB RAM, V12, 6.5.30
:Indy: indy, 150MHz R4400SC, 256MB RAM, XL24, 6.5.10
:Indigo2IMP: purplehaze, R10000, Solid IMPACT (full hinv pending)
probably posted from Image bruce, 2x2x2.5GHz PowerPC 970MP, 8GB RAM, Mac OS X 10.4.11
plus IBM POWER6 p520 * Apple Network Server 500 * HP C8000 * BeBox * Solbourne S3000 * Commodore 128 * many more...


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Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 2:44 pm 
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Location: Berkeley, CA, USA, NA, Earth, Sol
Nostalgia and fetishism, I'd say. I was exposed to SGI and other high-end graphics systems when a college friend went to work for a company that made realtime* graphics/UI toolkits, and so had a couple of everything they supported - including SGI 4D and Personal IRIS systems. The SGIs stood out, even in that rich mix, as being exotic, responsive, and fun to use.

So it's mostly about getting to work with systems I wanted to but didn't get a chance to work with when they were current, but not in any serious way (so far) in terms of developing anything. Seeing how the later NUMA systems are configured and operate has been interesting, but as R-ten-K would point out Moore's Law has left them behind in terms of unit cost for doing "useful work."

* The toolkit(s) were available on systems which claimed realtime capabilities like Masscomp and DEC, as well as graphics-focused outfits like Apollo, Intergraph and SGI, all the way to "mundane" workstation providers like HP and Sun. So my encounter with them started around 1988, but the company (VI Corporation) had already been launched, crashed, and resurrected once at that point, and was still extant in the late 1990s at least. At some point it was renamed for the main product DataViews, then possibly acquired by GE.

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Then? :IRIS3130: ... Now? :O3x02L: :A3504L:- :A3502L: :1600SW:+MLA :Fuel: :Octane2: :Octane: :Indigo2IMP: ... Other: DEC :BA213: :BA123: Sun, DG AViiON, NeXT :Cube:


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Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 5:50 pm 
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smj wrote:
... Moore's Law has left them behind in terms of unit cost for doing "useful work."

How do you deal with the Developer's Law that says no matter how many new transistors the hardware guys can stick into a device, the developers will double the requirements twice as fast ? :P

btw, what is our definition of "useful work" ? :P :P :P

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Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 7:44 pm 
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Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
hamei wrote:
btw, what is our definition of "useful work" ? :P :P :P

Or, as Tom Davis said at the introduction of IRIX 5.0, "Try to do some real work on a 16 megabyte Indy. Case closed." :shock:

hamei, seriously, you still do all your Internet browsing on your Fuel? All of it? Because, like, I don't see how it's possible to do that while maintaining any level of sanity... :lol:

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Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 8:47 pm 
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I think Irix is great for workstations, not only because how Irix itself work, nor the fantastic tools it embeds (mipspro and the entire suite, notably) but also because of the hundreds of applications that make it so powerful. Flame, BarcoCreator, Mathematica, Alias/Wavefront apps, Vizserver, ProE and many many others, but also the ones nekochaners did a fantastic job porting.

Add to this that if you don't like Irix, you can still run OpenBSD, magicians like Miod did an amazing work on this front. I can't stress enough how Miod is a genius, and maybe he's so great because he doesn't think x86, he has a very widespread use of different systems and architectures and that's yet another reason why one should spend time using systems like SGI's.

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Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 9:02 pm 
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Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
Back in the day, when sgi was market capped at 5-billion plus, it was the only architecture that could run applications like Pro/E and Maya. Obviously, sgi got their asses handed to them by the Wintel Juggernaut but my Octane still runs Maya 6.5 pretty well, and don't forget that all three of the Matrix movies were made with Maya 4 and below. So, with Maya 6.5 and Shake 3.6 what I've got is a circa-2005 Hollywood special effects studio, and for now that's still plenty good enough for me... :P

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Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 10:16 pm 
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vishnu wrote:
hamei, seriously, you still do all your Internet browsing on your Fuel? All of it? Because, like, I don't see how it's possible to do that while maintaining any level of sanity... :lol:

Almost. If it is a total pos site shoving a modern, rich internet experience down my throat I just leave.

Very occasionally there will be something I need where you have to use Windows. Our local tax department has a nice app that requires it to run from Windows as administrator, if you can believe it. No choice there.

But that's the rare exception. And it wouldn't work from Linux, either.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 12:04 am 
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Location: Berkeley, CA, USA, NA, Earth, Sol
hamei wrote:
smj wrote:
... Moore's Law has left them behind in terms of unit cost for doing "useful work."
How do you deal with the Developer's Law that says no matter how many new transistors the hardware guys can stick into a device, the developers will double the requirements twice as fast ? :P

btw, what is our definition of "useful work" ? :P :P :P
What I meant was with respect to the NUMA machines, if I need to scale up the CPU cycles and bandwidth, I can probably get more with a lower electricity bill using newer commodity gear than if I try to scale up using Origin or Altix/Itanium. It's an unfair comparison in most respects, since both were discontinued a while ago, but...

Yes like the old saying goes, your needs will expand to consume all available resources. I don't dispute the bloat that comes along with modern desktops. Hell, I'm sure you can dig up threads where I rant about them. OTOH this Crunchbang Linux installation with the Openbox window manager helps rein it in where it can. A lot of the appeal comes from the ways it's similar to classic workstation windowing environments like 4Dwm...

vishnu wrote:
Back in the day, when sgi was market capped at 5-billion plus, it was the only architecture that could run applications like Pro/E and Maya.
The apps mia mentioned are great, and are certainly just as capable today as when they were released. (Unless you can't get the license key issued, as mentioned recently in another thread.) Wasn't trying to take anything away from that - I'd love to see things getting released that were built with them, on SGI gear. Who knows, maybe one day I'll get around to it...

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Then? :IRIS3130: ... Now? :O3x02L: :A3504L:- :A3502L: :1600SW:+MLA :Fuel: :Octane2: :Octane: :Indigo2IMP: ... Other: DEC :BA213: :BA123: Sun, DG AViiON, NeXT :Cube:


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Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 6:54 am 
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Location: Wijchen, The Netherlands
Jack Luminous wrote:
old swiss reel-to-reel machines

Studer/Revox? Kewl. I swear, one day I'll buy a Mk II B77 8-)

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Now this is a deep dark secret, so everybody keep it quiet :)
It turns out that when reset, the WD33C93 defaults to a SCSI ID of 0, and it was simpler to leave it that way... -- Dave Olson, in comp.sys.sgi

Currently in commercial service: Image :Onyx2:(2x) :O3x02L:
In the museum: almost every MIPS/IRIX system.
Wanted: GM1 board for Professional Series GT graphics (030-0076-003, 030-0076-004)


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