Jan van de Veen, Nijkerk, The Netherlands
|The WANG 2200 computer(1973-1992)|
The WANG 2200 appeared in May 1973 and was the first WANG minicomputer that could perform data processing in a common computer language. The models came as 2200-A,-B and -C. The A model being the simple machine, while model's B and C had more capabilities in arithmetic. The next model was introduced as the 2200-T with even more power. But, these where slow machines, working with cassette's for storage of programs and data.
As an option you could buy a desk to hold the CRT, a printer and the CPU
with separate power supply.
This is the
keyboard from the 2200-C model in the museum. (courtesy Hannover
Architectural High School)
This is also one of the very first models form the 2200 line of products
This is an 2200 PCS II built and approved in May 1978.
Much like the 2200 E2 model showed above, but with a wonderful
extension of two 5.25 floppy drives mounted on top of the case.
|I had seen the 2200 A en T models of
1974 at the WANG office at Utrecht. The CRT was a great
advantage, but I did not like the tape, nor the screen (16 x 64) and these were slow
computers. But..... than in 1976 I was allowed to do a little work on the 2200 VP. This was
There was a Diablo 10Mb hard disk attached and this machine went like a rocket. It could perform matrix operations, even calculating an inverse matrix, by just a single statement. A 20 x 20 matrix was inverted in just a few seconds. So, at the 20th of April 1977 our 2200VP arrived at the Institute. Dr Wang was a true engineer and that was shown in the program language that came with the 2200.
Basic already had a bad name, certainly at the Universities as DEC had a very poor Basic, but this was different. The 2200 works as an interpreter, solving and executing each program line at the time. You can run single lines, what makes debugging easy, provided that you understand what you are doing. On this picture you can also see the Memorex dual floppy that was connected together with the 10Mb Diablo hard disk.(not in the museum) A 2221W impact printer completed the configuration. We worked very successfully with the VP and at one time had two systems multiplexed. Unlike the older models it loaded the BASIC interpreter and the operating system from a floppy or the Diablo drive. This enabled WANG to extend and improve the operating system and the BASIC language in a much easier way, just by issuing a new release.
It must have been one of the first computers that booted ! The speed was incredible and only the Intel 386 chip eventually beat this machine in speed. Keep in mind that was almost 10 years after the introduction of the 2200 VP.
Eventually we needed more terminals and that made the 2200MVP the obvious choice. A MVP is a VP, but with the memory divided into partitions. Each user was assigned to a particular partition. The processor would work in a round robin fashion, giving each partition a time slice of a few milliseconds. At first 8 terminals could be connected, later on expanded to 16. The Diablo soon was too small and a Phoenix drive was connected with 80Mb. (4 fixed spindles and one removable). A wonderful machine that hardly ever gave a problem.
WANG had a very good team of field engineers that would do everything for the customer. Sales representatives where a different kind. I never had high thoughts about these people. It was a miracle as you had the same salesman for more than half a year, so they had no understanding what we where doing anyway. By 1984 WANG - Netherlands office had moved to a third location and even that location was soon to small. WANG was doing very well indeed ! But, the first PC's had entered the market and they would soon bring WANG in great problems.
drives from Diablo and Phoenix where in size like washing machines and very
In May 1980 the SVP was introduced, with a Winschester drive, an 8 inch
floppy and a maximum of 2 terminals.
Besides the SVP the LVP was introduced in 1980.
entered the world of finance and banking in 1978 by introducing the VS computer. From 1982
to 1987, not much attention was given to the 2200 line. Their installed base must have
been several 10,000th, all over the world. As no new products for the 2200 came on the
market, people where looking for alternatives. Some former WANG
employees had made a product called NIAKWA, that would
emulate a 2200 on a PC. Much cheaper and faster, but for single user only. In 1988 WANG
must have realized that they where loosing customers and new products where
introduced. The 2200 was now called the CS. Soon there came Disk Storage
cabinets with large Winchester drives, cheap terminals and printers. We soon
had the Phoenix drive replaced by two DS cabinets with tapes as backup
What you see here is a very
special machine. In 1990 WANG
decided to have the 2200CS running on an Intel 386 chip and named is the
CS-Turbo ! The code was developed in India
as I believe. The CPU , not visible on the image, is still a gray, not very good looking box. You see two different terminals,
an old and expensive one on the left and a cheap one on the right. The two Disk Storage
cabinets are under the table.
This machine could have partitions much larger than the 56K that was the
limit on a MVP. On the screen you can see that partition 2 has been
assigned 400K ! For old 2200 users this must be a miracle.
|This is the line up of terminals
that where used from 1983 up to 1990.
Most left is an expensive 2336 DW
(1983), in the middle an 2436 DE (1988), much cheaper but still with the
same keyboard and in the right an 2536 DW that was made in Taiwan and was
the less expansive one. These terminals could work with a MVP, LVP, SVP, CS
Baudrate was set to 19.200, 8 Bits, no parity. The 2536 was capable to a much higher transmission rate, I believe up to 57.600, provided you had the more advanced MX controller in your CPU.
Courtesy Mr. Winterer from Stuttgart for donating the 2336 DW (2018)
|In England a company by the name of Kerridge had decided to go on with the beautiful and
powerful language but not the 2200. They developed an emulator for UNIX, written in the C
language and with a lot of C functionality added to it. In 1995 we bought an HP9000 and
the Kerridge software, called KCML. On the 15th of July 1995 we switched off the WANG 2200CS for the last time. As we had decided not to use the WANG terminals, but use PC's as workstations connected to the
HP9000, this was really the end of WANG at the Institute. It
is amazing that from 1977 up till 2011 we have used more or less the same operating system,
be it not on the same platform. But, all our
data are still easy accessible and the Institute has had great benefit from this. We can
compile data from many experiments in one data-base to do all sorts of complicated
analyses, that sometimes make live experiments superfluous.
We must keep in mind that WANG invented Word Processing. Almost all of the machines showed above where also on the market with the W extension. Same machines, but specially adapted for word processing.
By 1995 WANG was in great troubles and had even entered a Chapter 11
status. This gave them time to restructure the company while keeping creditors at bay. Dr
Wang had died some years before and I believe that his vision was badly missed. Eventually
WANG became part of the Dutch company
Getronics and later on KPN. If you would like to know more about the
story of WANG, you should see to get a copy of "Riding the runaway horse". I was told that it is out of print, but perhaps some bookstores might
still have it. This excellent book is written by Charles C.
Kenny and covers the whole story of Wang Laboratories
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Jan van de Veen