Data General AViiON 4000

AViiON logo This Data General AV/4000 is the pride of my collection. In 1989, this machine sported not one but two 33 MHz 32-bit RISC CPUs, 112 MiB of RAM, wide peripheral buses, over 1.5 GB of file system storage, a tape backup and a 10 Mbit Ethernet interface but no video card or keyboard. The primary on-board user interface was a serial terminal. My own computer at the time was a fairly typical PC clone with 640 KiB of RAM, a 10 MHz 16-bit 8088 and a 20 MB hard disk drive.

Unfortunately this server machine (especially the full-height ESDI HDDs) was loud and consumed a rated 1250 BTUs. I usually didn't work in the same room when it was running.

AV/4000 front panel

The Motorola 88000 (m88k) series of CPUs was that company's entry into the reduced instruction set computer (RISC) CPU market. It was slated to replace the aging 68000 (m68k) family of complex instruction set computer (CISC) chips that had been highly successful in Apple Macintosh, Amiga personal computers (PCs) as well as just about every workstation manufacturer's early models before they developed RISC chips of their own. The 88000 did make its way into Data General (DG) and Network Computing Devices (NCD) products. Eventually parts of the m88k architecture (e.g., the latched bus) were grafted into IBM's four-chip Power architecture to produce the PowerPC.

Unfortunately this AV/4000 suffered a loss of its boot firmware when the allegedly non-volatile boot memory battery failed. My recovery attempts did not succeed. Grudgingly, this machine has been granted a special exception to rule #1, that it runs. Right now it serves as an exceptionally cool table in my office.