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As well as the need for a major upgrade in the interactive facilities available in university engineering departments, there was also a need for appropriate terminals to allow access to the central facilities at Edinburgh and UMIST and the multi-user mini systems. Rather than allocate a terminal to a specific machine or researcher, a pool of terminals was created that allowed central purchase and maintenance (with a better chance of discounts) and the ability to upgrade researchers terminals as the demand changed.
The terminal types suggested in the Rosenbrock report ranged from simple, inexpensive alphanumeric devices to a range of graphics devices (from the Tektronix 4010 storage tube to refresh displays with a light pen). A sharing level of 5 users per terminal was recommended. The first batch of terminals was purchased in 1976 (20 VDUs, 20 T4006/T4010 Storage Tubes, 7 T4014s and 6 Tektronix hardcopy units). The first IMLAC PDS-4 refresh display was ordered in January 1977. By 1980, there were 430 terminals in the pool:
- 149 Simple VDUs
- 80 Printers
- 39 Portable terminals
- 31 Printing terminals
- 73 Raster graphics (B/W)
- 15 Colour graphics
- 85 Tektronix graphics
- 41 Tektronix hard copy units
- 5 HP colour plotters
- 21 Specialist graphics (IMLAC, HP, Tektronix)
By 1984, the terminal pool had risen to 1141 with a sharing ratio of 3 researchers per terminal. The pool continued until 1988 when the terminals that were not obsolete were donated to the researchers who had them.
This section gives some idea of the type of terminals that were in the pool.