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GEC 4080 as ICL 1906A Front End
In 1973, the Atlas Laboratory looked at the possibility of a GEC 2050 as a front end to the 1906A, effectively replacing the ICL 7903 for high speed communications. Frankie Sims did the initial design work and some code was written using a 2050 emulator on the 360/195 before the first 2050 arrived.
It soon became clear that the machine was not powerful enough. In consequence, an evaluation of potential machines took place. The ICL 7905 and the CTL Modular One were possibilities but eventually the GEC 4080 was chosen with the hardware interface being built by Peter Wilde of the Rutherford Laboratory. The aim was for it to act as bot a front-end to the ICL 1906A and to the 360/195.
The machine arrived in September 1974. The Rutherford HASP RJE station 2050 software was used for both the ICL 1906A and the 360/195.
The interface to the ICL 1906A was delivered at the end of 1974 but took quite a bit of effort to get it working which delayed the project. By mid-1975 the connection to the 1906A was working but with some errors. By the time the merger with Rutherford took place, the connection to both the ICL 1906A and the 360/195 had not taken place. One was problem that staff left the Atlas by EPSS. The basic design was changed to allow an EPSS wrapper around HASP packets. In consequence, the front-end did not come into service until 1976.
GEC 4080 Satellite Computers
A GEC 4080 computer was purchased by the Rutherford Laboratory to replace the old DDP-224 computer. The initial system consisted of 128 kbytes of core, one 9-track tape unit and two 2.4 Mbyte disc drives. Basic system software was developed, and a link (initially at 9.6 kbaud) established to the 370/195 emulating a HASP workstation, with ELECTRIC and graphics facilities available from interactive terminals.
A second GEC 4080 that originally was used by NIMROD was added in 1977.
GEC 4080 Gateway
With the closure of the 1906A in 1978, the Atlas GEC 4080 had its code rewritten to become an X25 Packet switch and the GEC 2050s were also recoded to use X25. This allowed them to be connected to the packet switch so that they could access both the facilities at Rutherford and those at Daresbury Laboratory. Daresbury were soon to take possession of a CRAY-1 computer.