Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sun SPARCstation 4

It was only when Blake of the excellent BYTEcellar twitted about this pretty brilliant SPARCstation 4 auction, that I actually realized a SPARCstation is nowadays considered retro. Time does indeed fly, doesn't it? This exotic machine is older than a Dreamcast and I do feel so very old... Then again, bidding on this vintage power-user's dream should make you feel much better. Mind you, the auction is for the computer only, which does come with 160MB of RAM and NeXTstep v.3.3 pre-installled. Seller ships only within the US. 

8 comments:

  1. I thought that Chess game had a familiar look. According to the eBay listing, this Sparcstation 4 is running NeXTstep 3.3, which was the last version of NeXTstep and came out circa 1995. NeXTstep is of course the basis of Mac OSX, which all new Apple Macintoshes of the last few years have been running.

    What I find pretty remarkable about NeXTstep though is that by v3.3, it was running on multiple CPU architectures on various platforms. Motorola 68040/060s in NeXTcubes, Intel x86, Sun Sparc and HP PA-Risc computers. And it's descendant - Mac OSX - had to be ported to PowerPC G3s AND legacy Mac programs from OS9 or older that ran on PowerPC CPUs as well as the older Motorola 68000 processors.

    All that, and Apple still managed to come out with a lean, fast and stable operating system that's still going strong today on YET ANOTHER architecture - multicore Intel x86 CPUs! Admittedly, the original Mac OSX 10.0 was pretty buggy, and along the way they've ditched Classic OS support, which wasn't a popular decision among many Mac users - but whichever way you look at it, the transition Apple made from their original Operating System code, by way of NeXTstep and the way they incorporated the two and made the resulting product work as well as it did, was not only an incredibly complex undertaking, it was incredibly risky and could have been a complete disaster. But somehow they made it work and are now once again one of the most important computer corporations in the world.

    The Chess game in OSX still looks pretty much like the NeXT version, btw ;D

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  2. I should have said "it's descendant - Mac OSX - had to be ported to PowerPC G3s AND run legacy Mac programs from OS9 or older"

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  3. I've got a pair of them here at work - too bad I can't even touch 'em due to policies, I'd really love to bring them home!

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  4. @ Bob: Can't see how I can add anything to this excellent torrent of information dear Bob. All I can do is thank you and stand impressed with NeXTstep. Never knew it was still going strong under the guise of Mac OS. Excellent stuff!

    @ Mik: If only you had a US address then, eh? Still, they are bound to upgrade at some point and I do believe you could then have your pick :)

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  5. You're quite welcome, dear Gnome. It's nice to be able to help this brilliant little blog!

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  6. Why, thank you so very much!

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  7. I’ve got an earlier one up in the loft, complete with monitor; external HD, DAT tape, CD Drive, and I think a terminal hub SCISI add on bits.

    I think it had Linux loaded on it an one point... could be wrong though!

    Don’t know if it still works now!

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  8. I'd urge you to give it a try. These are beautiful machines indeed Gary. BTW, that's an excellent new retro gaming blog you've got there.

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