SPARCstation 10

The SPARCstation platform was a popular Unix workstation in the '80s and '90s in education and corporations. The "pizza box" dimensions fit on the desktop with a big monitor on top and packs a dense load of electronics inside with keyboard and mouse 'round front. As with most of my exhibits, I ran mine headless because I don't have a lot of space for monitors.

I retrieved my first SPARCstation 10 (SS10) from the dumpster at work. It ran well enough for a couple years but eventually had some sort of mainboard failure I don't recall. I bought the second SS10 at my local Goodwill ComputerWorks. It was a great little machine.

Heavy, with a dense load of electronics, the shape was easy to rack in a 2U space seemingly as designed. Mounted on sleds that slotted securely into place in the chassis, the HDDs and the 3.5" FDD were attached with short ribbon cables. The mainboard offers four S-bus expansion slots carrying peripheral cards including the SunGX framebuffer card and some sort of external I/O card I don't recall. Two M-bus expansion slots were available, one of which was filled by the 50 MHz SuperSPARC 390Z55 CPU and its off-board cache controller. The second was empty. The small fans that drew cooling air through the miniature power supply were a bit loud for my taste, but acceptable in a quiet office environment. An off-board speaker box held the audio hardware. These machines had a special compactness and efficiency and solid build quality I admired.

Unfortunately, however, the Linux kernel dropped support for the sparc32 architecture in 2007. Eventually I moved the running SSs to NetBSD.