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Terminals at the University of Delaware

Legalize grew up in Newark, Delaware where the University of Delaware is located. Around the summer of 1978, he began playing computer games on the time-sharing terminals in the terminal room of Smith Hall. At this time, the terminals had a legend taped on each one indicating the guest logon that could be used to connect to the various systems available, making interactive computing available to anyone who was curious enough to try. A typical guest login was user DEMO with password DEMO.

After quickly becoming bored with the games on the computer, he taught himself to program by running a series of 25 programs, TUT01 through TUT25, on the HP 2000 timesharing system. These programs were written in BASIC and taught the user how to write programs in BASIC. Running the tutorial loaded the program into the user's workspace and the user was encouraged to run the LIST command to see the source code of the tutorials. After experimenting with HP 2000 timesharing BASIC, he was involved with Project Delta, using terminals to access a PDP-11/70 running RSTS/E and programming in DEC's BASIC-PLUS. After graduating high school in 1982, he obtained a degree in Electrical Engineeering with an emphasis on digital system design from the University of Delaware in 1986.

The terminal room in Smith Hall was his first exposure to computing and to computer terminals. The terminals were connected to minicomputers and mainframes located across town in the Computer Center. To connect the terminals to a specific machine, the user first interacted with a machine called the port selector. The connection was established by typing the sequence RETURN, a single digit number, and RETURN again. The terminal could be connected to the following systems:

  • HP 2000 running the HP timesharing system, operated by the Computer Center
  • PDP-11/70 running Unix, operated by the Computer Center
  • PDP-11/70 running RSTS/E, operated by Project Delta
  • DECsystem-10 running TOPS-10, operated by the Computer Center
  • Burroughs B7700 running MCP, operated by the Computer Center

With mainframes and minicomputers from three different manufacturers, this was a fairly rich and heterogeneous computing environment for 1978. In a similar fashion, there were a variety of terminals located in the Smith Hall terminal room:

  • 3 Tektronix 4010 storage display graphics terminals, with a shared Tektronix hardcopy unit.
  • 2 HP 2648A raster display monochrome graphics terminals, with a shared HP pen plotter.
  • numerous DEC LA36 printing terminals, some with the APL character set option.
  • A single CRT terminal (Infoton?) was located in a hallway and was permanently connected to a knowledge base program called Quest and written by John Candy. Quest was written in Algol and ran on the Burroughs B7700 where the user could type in English phrased questions and the program would attempt to find answers from it's knowledge base of information.

By 1982, CRT terminals began to replace the DEC LA36 printing terminals to provide visual editing:

Project DELTA had it's own private terminal room and associated offices that, at one time or another, contained:

The University had a large campus with terminal rooms located in several buildings, as well as terminals located in various research laboratories. Also known to have been present at the University: