Category Archives: Motorola S2000

There’s someone out there.

Hi recently received a very interesting  message as a comment to one of the other pages on the website. It seems that there is another person out there who’s seen one of these fascinating machines.

William Corcoran used one a few years ago and kindly posted this information.

Hello,  I would like to comment on the Motorola S2000.  

I have been searching for years for this machine.  I can’t believe I found someone who has one.  It means so much to me.  

I would love to share with you what I know.  This little box was the DPU (data processing unit).  It connected to other similar boxes that contained hard disk drives (50 MB) and tapes (WANGTEK).

This is the first box that I learned UNIX on.  

Way back in 1986 when this box was hot, the disks would click so loudly as the heads moved.  I have so many stories to share about this box.

However, I will tell you that this little thing was years ahead of its time.  Unix was nearly virtualized!   You see, the main OS was an executive call ISOS.  And, little UNIX actually ran as a process under ISOS.  It was the coolest thing.  

Yes, it was initially AT&T System III and then System V.  

The box had some really cool diagnostic software.  The company I worked for at the time (1986) used this box as their main system for word processing.  We used Motorola Codex terminals.  

Well, this is the box I cut my teeth on with UNIX.   When you signed on to ISOS, you could do a “ps” equivalent and you would actually see UNIX running as a process.  At night when everyone went home, I would spend hours learning UNIX.  Also, I normally would create a stand alone backup of the hard disks.  Then, by the end of the night, I would invariably hose the OS by accident (trying to tweak it).  Then, I would have to restore the entire disk (block copy via dd) from backup tape.  

I was so naive to not really understand how dangerous it was to restore the disk by way of stand alone recovery.  Yet, I think I restored the disk over 20 times over the course of 1 year.  It never let me down.  

In the old days, in order to power off UNIX, you had to flush the disks:


And then turn off the box really quickly!

I remember the awful feeling of crashing the system, fsck would clean it all up and then:


So, you had to prevent the in core copy of the FS from overwriting the work that FSCK just did on the root volume.  

I would always seem to get it to a point where FSCK would start screaming:


And, it would be an infinite loop of endless messages!  

TIme to put the restore tape in!  

(This little S2000 is so important to me!  Take care of her!)

and also this piece…

One more note on the Motorola S2000.

The console was assigned to tty6. Thats why you did not get anything out of it when you connected to tty1.

Try using tty6

Thanks very much for that William. Next time I get the S2000 I’ll try tty6 and see how I get on.

Motorola (Four Phase systems) S2000.

IMG_20150219_134721096This is a new one on me and a curious one at that. A quick search of the internet found a small piece on not a great deal and nothing on the company after they were sold to Motorola in 1981.

The machine we have here appears to be a small office machine; It has six serial ports on the back along with a 50 pin connector for an external disk drive. I’m guessing SCSI but I have no proof, I have no disk drive either.

IMG_20150219_134939086Inside the case is a card cage but it’s a bit stranger than it first appears. There seems to be two buses in the cage. The two boards on the left have card edge connectors and both have 6809 processors. The three boards on the right have three row connectors with pins that look like connectors on a VME bus. One board has a Motorola 68010. The other boards seem to be RAM cards.

When I power the machine up the fan whirs and I can see a couple of LEDs glowing optimistically. I don’t see any activity on the 25 way D type at the back labelled “J1 RS-232”.

IMG_20150219_134751888 IMG_20150219_135405795 IMG_20150219_135224395