As an offspring to the "BlinkenBone" Project, this idea for a cool computer museum exhibit was borne:
Install an embedded Linux system into an original DEC VT100 terminal and let it simulate a selection of vintage DEC computers.
This installation is called the "DECbox". It is dressed up as a fictive DEC product (so named like "DECnet" or "DECtape" or "DECserver").
The embedded Linux system is a BeagleBone.
The simulations are made with the Bob Supniks "SimH" ... a former name for the "DECbox" was indeed "embedded SimH" or "eSimH". With SimH, you can run a lot of old operating systems ... and have fun!
Technically, DECbox is a quite obvious idea: since several years micro controllers and embedded systems are strong enough to simulate vintage computers. Many people have ported simulators - especially SimH - to those systems. So I simply add my project to all these, with some special flavor.
When presented in a museum, the DECbox has several unique advantages over other exhibits:
- Visitors have the original look-and-feel of an ancient system: they access a vintage computer through the original video terminal ... and in original speed.
- The installation is very power saving, and no historical equipment has to be run.
- You can move the DECbox everywhere you want ... still having the functional equivalent of a dozend fully packed 19" racks inside!
- The VT100 is not modified in any way and can be used as normal terminal within seconds.
- If somebody damages the software installation, you just restore an image of the on-board SD-card
- If somebody steals it, the loss is just below 300€ (costs for VT100 + BeagleBone + expansion hardware)