"Network planning and control specialists smoothly integrated an average of two new nodes per week as monthly data flow through the Tymnet network climbed above 12 billion characters in 1978."

She's using a Tektronix vector graphics terminal, one of the most beautiful display devices.

@qrs Woah, I didn't know Tektronix made computer terminals.

@Felthry @qrs

Real xterms support a "Tektronix mode" where you can feed them vector data. Every single alternative dropped support for it.

I grew up with one of these terminals. They're "storage tubes". CRT displays shoot a beam that eventually covers the entire visible display and repeat it very quickly. These don't work that way. The beam can be moved around, and the tube has to hold on to the image as long as possible.

An unfortunate side effect is that these screens are very, very dark.

@yam655 @qrs Eh, I've used analog scopes before, they're not that dark. Unless you turn the brightness down, anyway, or they're really faded.

@Felthry @qrs

A scope is not a storage tube. The image on the screen is effectively printed to the display. The display will flash when it is refreshed, as every spot needs to be written to so that it can all settle back at the same luminance.

It's more like a cholesterol/eInk display, except that it glows.

@yam655 @qrs Ah, I haven't used one of those before, no. Though it's worth mentioning that analog storage oscilloscopes do exist, they were just quickly supplanted by DSOs.

@Felthry @qrs

I'm not surprised that analog storage oscilloscopes existed. The Tektronix terminal may have been a novel combination of features, but the underlying technology needed to come from somewhere.

But, yeah, it's why the professionally photographed image of the person using the Tektronix terminal is so dark. It is really cool, and was definitely more cool it its heyday, but you couldn't really get bright photos of it in use.

@yam655 @qrs Did they ever make ones that used a standard phosphor and digital memory to refresh the display?

@Felthry @qrs

It was 1024x780 in the 70s without the need for expensive RAM.

In 1982 the Hercules video cards came on the market and could do 720x348, a fraction of what you could do with the Tek 4010.

Tektronix tried to adapt with the 4014 having support for an "Enhanced Graphic Module" which supported a resolution of 4096x3071. (A resolution only the newest raster displays support.)

They put their eggs in the wrong basket, leaning in to stuff you can't do with standard displays.

@Felthry @qrs Those things are really cool. The image is stored by the CRT rather than by any kind of digital memory, which made them a lot cheaper than earlier graphics terminals.

They weren't great text terminals, though: no scrolling, no ability to move the cursor around, and limited buffer size so it could end up dropping characters a lot. You could also end up writing characters beyond the edge of the screen.

@qrs yes! So very much yes! Those were absolutely gorgeous and those who had the privilege of using them recall them fondly.

Not to mention that XTerm still supports Tek mode¹ :flan_laugh:


Sign in to participate in the conversation

Server run by the main developers of the project 🐘 It is not focused on any particular niche interest - everyone is welcome as long as you follow our code of conduct!