Wyse WY-50

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Wyse WY-50
Wyse WY-50.jpg
Manufacturer Wyse
Model WY-50
Introduced October, 1983
Introductory Price $695
Interface RS-232C
Baud Rates 50, 75, 110, 134.5, 150, 300, 600, 1200, 1800, 2000, 2400, 4800, 9600, 19200, 38400
Size 14-inch
Phosphors Green, Amber
Refresh Rate 60 Hz
Character Modes
Resolutions 80x24, 132x24
Attributes Normal,
Half Intensity,
Reverse Video,
Matrix 7x13
Cell 10x13
CPU 11 MHz Intel 8031
ROM 4 KB to 16 KB
Personalities ADDS Viewpoint,
Hazeltine 1500,
Lear Siegler ADM-31,
TeleVideo 910,
TeleVideo 920,
TeleVideo 925,
Wyse WY-100
Software Libraries
Terminfo Name wy50

The Wyse WY-50 (commonly referred to as the Wyse 50) is an ASCII terminal that was designed and manufactured by Wyse Technology. Introduced in October 1983 at a price of $695, it became Wyse's best selling terminal model until the introduction of the WY-60 (which was the best-selling ASCII terminal of all time from any manufacturer, outselling all of DEC's VT models combined.) [1]

The Wyse 50's popularity largely stemmed from its combination of an ultra-low price (half the price of the competition at the time of introduction), and its rich assortment of features which outpaced other budget terminals.

The Wyse 50 is an improved version of Wyse's first terminal, the WY-100. Both models use the same native commands, so the Wyse 50 is a plug-compatible replacement for the Wyse 100.

The Wyse 50/Wyse 100 native emulation is a direct copy of Lear Siegler ADM-31, so the Wyse 50 was marketed as a plug-compatible replacement for the ADM-31, but offers more features and crisper screen display at a substantially lower price.

In September 1985, the Wyse 50+ was introduced alongside the Wyse 50. Physically identical to the original Wyse 50, the 50+ is an interim product which was only marketed and sold for seven months, while Wyse was bringing the WY-60 to market. The Wyse 50+ offers several key features of a Wyse 60, inside the physical shell of a Wyse 50.

Wyse 50 specs:

  • Green phosphor screen only choice 1983-1986, then default choice from mid-1986 on
  • Amber phosphor screen unavailable 1983-1986, then special-order option from mid-1986 on (after WY50+ was discontinued)
  • Unidirectional auxiliary serial printer port
  • 1 page of screen memory
  • Emulations: Wyse 50 (native), TVI910, TVI920, TVI925, ADDS VP, HZ 1500

Wyse 50+ specs:

Wyse offered a technical document for their technicians, FEB050, which outlined how to convert a WY50 logic board to a WY50+ logic board.

Features common to Wyse 50 and Wyse 50+:

  • 101-key detached keyboard w/ Cherry MX Black mechanical keyswitches and double-shot ABS keycaps made by Comptec (now Signature Plastics). The Wyse 50 keyboard (model #840059-01) is physically identical to the later Wyse WY-60 ASCII keyboard (model #840338-01), with the following exceptions:
    • Stepped keycaps on all keys larger than 1x1 size (Tab, Ctrl, Backspace, Send/Print, Return, both Shift keys, Caps Lock, num pad 0, and num pad Enter)
    • Cable is black, very heavy gauge, with round cross-section profile
    • Plug is 10-pin DIN
  • Terminal configuration is set up using keyboard and stored in NVRAM ("soft setup", unlike many terminals of the era which use DIP switches to set configuration).
  • 80x24 or 132x24 screen size for data, plus 1 optional status line at top, plus 1 optional function key labeling line at bottom.
  • 16 programmable function keys. The Wyse 50/50+ only allow the keys F1 thru F16 to be programmed; the later Wyse 60 used an identical keyboard but allowed many more keys to be programmed in local setup.

Pros of the Wyse 50/50+:

  • Owing to its simplistic "magic cookie" display architecture, the native emulation renders data on screen noticeably faster than other terminals in their native emulations. A Wyse 60 running in native mode, or in VT 100 mode, will take longer to render the same screen at the same baud rate compared to a Wyse 50.
  • The Wyse 50 typically can be run at full speed (38,400 bps) with no handshaking or parity checking, which on most other terminals is not possible. The Wyse 60, for example, tops out at half the speed (19,200 baud) before handshaking and/or parity checking are required to prevent garbled data.
  • The screen has built in tilt-and-swivel functionality, and no cables plug directly into the back of the screen (instead plugging into the base of the terminal). This means the screen can be easily moved around without stretching or potentially loosening any cables.

Cons of the Wyse 50/50+:

  • Commonly known as a "self-nuking device", owing to the MPS board design which places a large electrolytic capacitor (C206) one-sixteenth of an inch from a heatsink. This has been a well-known flaw from the beginning, and skilled technicians often replace the OEM electrolytic capacitor with an upgraded one designed for extreme temperatures (such as Nichicon HA series UHA1H4R7KRA capacitor, 4.7 microfarads at 50 volts non-polarized).
  • In native emulation, the down and left arrow keys send the same keycodes as return and backspace (respectively). This can result in a clash known as the "Wyse arrow key problem", where the arrow keys will not work as expected under certain software.
    • A workaround for the down arrow key clash is to place the Wyse 50 into TVI 925 emulation mode in the local setup configuration, which has no effect on the terminal except for causing the down arrow key to send its own unique keycode distinct from enter/return. Note that this does not work on other Wyse terminals which can emulate both the Wyse 50 and Televideo 925, where certain Wyse 50 escape sequences (like line-drawing characters) are broken by the TVI 925 emulation mode.
    • A workaround for the left arrow key clash stems from the Wyse 50 having side-by-side "Back Space" and "Del" keys; the "Back Space" key (and thus the left arrow key) can be mapped in the target application software or operating system to be a non-destructive backspace, while the "Del" key can be mapped to a destructive backspace.
  • Like most early ASCII terminals, the Wyse 50 uses "magic cookies" to set and un-set display attributes (reverse video, underline, blinking, low-intensity, etc.), akin to HTML's use of prefix-and-suffix tags i.e. <bold>bold text here</bold>. Because the Wyse 50 uses magic cookies:
    • There is less available screen real estate for data to be displayed, because an invisible blank space is 'wasted' on both ends of the text where the "start attribute" and "stop attribute" cookies exist. Software which does not account for this will have errors in screen display (i.e. fields misaligned).
      • A workaround for this exploits the terminal's special "protected field" function, which displays 'protected data' in reverse video without the use of a cookie, and thus no loss of screen real estate.
    • If one of these invisible cookies is overwritten by data, the effect it was having is canceled out. This can lead to massive unintended screen display problems.
      • This problem, too, is evaded by use of the "protected field" exploit.
    • "Start attribute" cookies affect the screen from the location they're placed, on to the end of screen or the first encountered "stop attribute" cookie, including all lines in between. If a "start attribute" cookie is placed on screen before the corresponding "stop attribute" cookie is placed on screen, the start cookie's effect (i.e. underline, reverse video, etc.) will briefly extend to the end of the screen until the "stop attribute" cookie is placed. This leads to a painful "blinding flash" effect as screens load, which is more noticeable at slower baud rates.
      • This problem is easily solved by placing each "stop attribute" cookie on screen before placing the corresponding "start attribute" cookie on screen.

In September, 1986 the price was cut from $599 to $499. [2]


External Links



  1. "Wyse Unveils Two Terminals, One for X3.64", Computerworld, October 3, 1983, pg. 68
  2. "ASCII terminal prices dip", Computerworld, September 22, 1986, pg. 19