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Six of the Best Looking Terminals from Yesteryear

December 13th, 2010 Posted in terminal emulation

Just because yesterdays computing heavy weights didn’t conform to apples shiny black minimalist aesthetic doesn’t mean they couldn’t be beautiful in their right, or at least interesting. Lets take a quick tour through some of my favorites.

1. The DEC VT05

The VT05 is a very early terminal from Digital Equipment Corp, dating from the early 1970′s. Apart from the great styling on this device the thing that really sticks out is the sheer scale. It was 19″/48cm wide, 12″/30cm high and 30″/76cm deep, weighing in at a mere 55 pounds (25 kilograms)!
Here’s a whole set of pictures (http://hummingbirdsales.com/VT05.html) from someone offering a vt05 for sale. Asking price $3600(!)

2. The DEC VT100

After a severe case of the uglies with the vt52 DEC brought out the VT100,  one of the most successful terminals of all time and in my opinion a nice looking piece of tech.

DEC VT100 terminal

DEC VT100 terminal

3. The Tektronix 4010

Meet the Tektronix 4010. These terminals were unique in a couple of ways – first off they were graphics terminals and displayed vector based graphics, secondly they used the CRT as data storage (also known as Direct View Bistable Storage Tube (DVBST) , see this wikipedia article for more detail). In the early seventies when these terminals were first released this was a cost effective way of storing data as RAM was prohibitively expensive. The pedestal contains the power supply and associated circuitry.

A very similar but slightly later model 4014. Photo by Jim Rees

A very similar but slightly later model 4014. Photo by Jim Rees

More pictures at http://www.selectric.org/tek4010/index.html

4. The HP 266x

Before brushed aluminum Airbooks, before colorful iMacs, before even the endless dull grey boxes of the 80′s and 90′s  – there was Brown…and it was good.
The Hewlett Packard 262x series of terminals were designed for use with HP’s 3000 series mainframes, according to this site (http://www.hpmuseum.net/display_item.php?hw=242), they were nicknamed the ‘ET Head’ terminals. The keyboards (not pictured) were colored in several shades of brown.

Hewlett Packard Terminal

Hewlett Packard Terminal

They were replaced by the dull (but very successful) 2392A terminal a couple of years later.

5. Data General Dasher 200

Sporting smooth curves and a color scheme that looks like it would have worked well with Norton/Midnight commander the dasher 200 was Data Generals early terminal for it’s range of mini systems.

data general dasher 200 photo from http://phasorburn.com/index.php/archive/by-the-soft-green-light/

data general dasher 200

6. The Lear Siegler ADM-3A

My personal favorite and in my opinion, shoe in for the most stylish dumb terminal there ever was, goes to the Lear Siegler ADM-3A. Integrating both the CRT display screen and the keyboard into one molded plastic shell the ADM-3A still looks great xx years later. It’s a wonder someone hasn’t modded one these and stuffed a modern system or games console inside.

Other ADM-Xs retained similar styling and the Televideo 910 bears more than a passing resemblance. Keen eyed readers will see ADM-3A in the background of the VT-05 video.

Adm3a - Image from Chris Jacobs collection

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