My Tektronix Memories

vintageTEK.org opened their first brick and mortar Tektronix museum in 2010 at 4620A SW Beaverton Hillsdale Highway, Beaverton, OR. 

 

After 6 years of operation they have now moved to the Tektronix campus at 13489 SW Karl Braun Dr, Beaverton, OR, 97077.  The phone number is (503) 644-0161.

 

I digitized a number of historic Tektronix films and videos that were in many different formats and donated them to their site.  They are well worth watching.  They also have an incredible number of historic photos on their site.  If you are in the area it is worth it to stop by and see some classic products with handcrafted workmanship.

I cleaned up a prototype 1968 Transmission Electron Microscope that was donated to the museum.  It's a pretty cool design and was built in 1968.  It is nearly all hand-built on vectorboards.  That contraption in the middle front is the Episcotister which works in conjunction with the Wobbulator that modulates the beam from side to side.  The Episcotister contained a rotating drum (missing) with slits cut at 90 degrees which  synchronized with the Wobbulator so the operator could view stereoscopic 3D images.  Pretty cool for the time frame.  We do have a number of sample images.  Stop by the museum on Friday or Saturday if you are in the area.

 

 

Tektronix 4010 Graphics Termial

Tektronix introduced the 4010 Computer Graphics Display Terminal in 1972 as a follow-on to the T-4002.  This product leveraged their proprietary CRT technology with a Direct View Storage Tube (DVST) and made high performance computer graphics affordable.  In the 1970s and 1980s you could visit any high technology company and see Tektronix terminals everywhere.  We have restored a 4010 and 4013 terminal at the vintageTEK museum with a free-running demo of various computer graphics files (thanks to Kurt Kruger).  The terminal in this demo runs at 2400 baud which is 4X slower than the maximum 9600 baud capability of the hardware.  The display is crisp and sharp with no jaggies (a feature of the analog display generator) and still looks great 40 years later.  The 1024 x 768 resolution was incredible for the time and the 4014 19" terminal had an amazing 4096 x 3072 resolution, high by even today's standards.  This video captures the magic of displaying graphics on a DVST and was made on August 10, 2012 at the vintageTEK museum. 

 

4010 Demo

 

 

Tektronix Commercials

This 12 minute audio commercial from March of 1996 was played when telephone customers were on-hold.  37% of the products (marked with an *) are ones that I had personal involvement in bringing to market.

400 Series Netstations*

Logic Analyzer Browser and Offline

Phaser 540 Color Laser Printer

TDS700A Digital Oscilloscope

TDS300 Series Oscilloscopes

200 Series Netstations*

THS Series TekScope

Cable Testers

Digital Oscilloscopes

Communications Convergence Test Instrumentation

Phaser Color Printers

Profile Video Disk Recorder*

Netstations*

Video Test Instrumentation

Lightworks Editing System*

Grass Valley Group Video Products*

WinDD Software*

Cable Testing Tools

Phaser 340 Color Printer

Tektronix On-Hold Telephone Commercials March 1996

 

 

Tektronix Patents and Inventors

I was responsible for the Tektronix patent recognition program for over a decade.  I independently put together an excel file of all the U.S. Tektronix and the assigned Sony/Tektronix patent inventors for the vintageTEK museum.  This information was all extracted from the US Patent and Trademark Office.  Most of the pre-1974 patents are scanned images while the post-1974 patents are full text.  The excel spreadsheet links to the post-1974 patent directly.  My thanks to Bill Randle who wrote the scripts to extract the names and counts, to John Winkelman for finding all the patents I missed, and the many others who sent tips and information.

 

There are various tabs in this spreadsheet:

-  Patents sorted by name

-  Patents sorted by number

-  Name consolidation for the various permutations

-  Tektronix and Sony/Tektronix US patent information

-  Non-US patent information (for those foreign patents without a corresponding US patent - currently empty)

-  Non-Tektronix inventors

-  Japan Utility Model registrations (information only)

1956-2010 Tektronix Patents

 

 

4025 Terminal

My first job at Tektronix was on the 4025 GAT-II (Great American Terminal) project.  This was the first Tektronix video (i.e. non-DVST) graphics terminal.  My job previous to Tektronix was a stonecutter at Olympia Monument Works.  I cut granite and really enjoyed the craftsmanship of the work.  This was before computers so everything was hand drawn and hand cut.  I cut a stone for the project and presented it to the project leader Stan Davis.  Many years after Stan left Tektronix he brought by his stone so I could get these pictures.

And a real 4025 ...

4025 page from the 1978 Tektronix Catalog

The engine of the 4025 was built around an 8080 microprocessor that I designed.  I built my first home computer using a modified version of this PCB to be compatible with the interrupt and IO addresses of the Processor Technology SOL-20.  That gave me access to a number of SOL-20 applications.  I designed and wire-wrapped a 48 kbyte DRAM board, a parallel IO board, and a cassette interface.  I modified a Victor calculator to use the print head for a 40 column printer.  This worked well for BASIC program listings as the statements aren't usually very long (there are listings posted to the top of the rack featuring red and black text as well as sideways banner printing).

This photo shows the Victor calculator-printer on the left and some sample printouts at the top of the rack.  The Tektronix 4010 on the right provided some very nice high resolution graphics.  The top of the rack consists of a high speed paper tape reader, the card cage with all the circuit boards, a computer power supply, I/O panels, and a shelf on the bottom for the two I/O cassette recorders.  On top of the red reset button is an AM radio.  I used to listen to the noise the computer generated while operating.  Later I added a S-100 card cage, video controller, and dual 8" disks with the CP/M operating system.

My scope, signal tracer, and VTVM sit on the top of the rack.  Notice the 8-track tapes to the right of the picture.  Vintage but nice! 

 

 

4105 Terminal

Years later I was working on the 4105 Unicorn project which was a low cost color graphics terminal.  We had an early prototype with an expensive hand-made plastic cabinet in a 5 day humidity test.  I got a call after the weekend from Bob Haas who discovered the terminal and took these photos.  We never knew how hot the chamber got when it malfunctioned as the temperature graph simply pegged at the maximum.

The thin vertical piece at the bottom of this photo is where the plastic had dripped down from the cart and melted around the electrical outlet box.  The pieces on the bottom of the cart were from the floor.

 

 

4107 Color Terminal / 4170 Graphics Processing Unit

I've worked as a volunteer at the vintageTEK.org museum to get some of the Tektronix Information Display Division (IDD) products working.  I got a 1983 4107 color graphics terminal with a 4170 local graphics processing unit fully functional.  The 4170 uses the CP/M-86 operating system with dual 5.25" floppies and a 5 mbyte internal hard drive.  This photo shows the 4107 drawing a vintage vector image.  You can use the 4107 joydisk with the local color menu to change the image colors.  This 4107 is a pre-production unit with a custom dark color.  I had to rebuild the Keytronics capacitive keyboard which uses foam pads that completely deteriorate over time.

 

 

Vintage T&M

I collect and restore vintage radios from the '20's to the '40's.  I bought several boxes of parts from the estate of a radio repair shop and these Tektronix PCBs were included. The Type 360 was a single channel portable oscilloscope introduced in 1957.  Part numbers changed from 6 digits to 9 digits in 1966.  I can find no records of the Type 360 ever having a PCB so I believe these might have been boards for early PCB evaluation.

The PCB is two sided copper with no plating.  Six holes on the left are reinforced with eyelets.  Some of the locations for tubes are puzzling as they are just pads without holes.  I suppose the tube sockets may have had wires which were just bent over the pads and soldered (the first surface mount components?).  The Astigmatism and HV Adjust locations are also puzzling as they are a circular trace around an unconnected hole.  I suppose the center hole could have been drilled out to accommodate a potentiometer which was then wired to the PCB.  Note the Tek logo is over etched.

 

 

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