Early Computing at Swansea College

Pre 1989

A PDP machine was on site and used for IT/Programming courses. Thsi was decommisioned sometime around 1988/89.

From 1989-1992

In 1989 Swansea College had Amstrad1512 and 1640 computers with, in most machines, hard disk drives. These may have been 20 or 40MB drives.

Thick/thin ethernet was then installed around the whole college. Big yellow coax cable snaked above the ceiling along each floor with a transceiver above the ceiling dropping a tap off to a multi-port repeater.

Thin coax then went to rooms or along coridors - with a terminator at the end of each leg. When there was a break in the cable and the terminator was no longer seen by teh repeater, every machine (up to 32) on that leg of coax stopped working - and it was a case of running around with a terminator trying to find the loose connection.

File servers were Intel based 486’s from Mertec Computers. Most computers then became Viglen 286’s I think. Novell was the NOS with Windows (3.11/12)for workgroups on machines.

As the computer technicians were based in the electronics laboratory workroom, there was much opportunity for experimenting. The most successful was the strapping together of a couple of stepper motors, drivers, mirrors a parallel port, a bit of 8086 machine code with some C, and a laser borroed from the Physics Department to create a controllable light show - circles were fun and teh overshoot on the corners of squares was a problem…

One famous workheet recorded the fault resolution of a lecturers complaint that the hard drive was not working on an Amstrad PC. The resolution was "removed drive from cupboard and installed it in machine".