Wednesday 26th January 2011, 22:09 Posted by urbancamo

Booted up the DECstation 5000 again this evening with the intention of sorting out some problems I'd noticed the other morning with my port of robotfindskitten. It would appear that the naughty kitten manages to hide behind invisible obstacles. Clearly there is something amiss with the curses routines. Just to prove that something is running, here is a screenshot:

Ultrix Port - robotfindskitten


Inevitably I got distracted with an Ultrix documentation CD, on which I noticed SoftPC listed. Does anyone else remember emulated PCs on workstations? This particular implementation from DEC was written by a company called Insignia. It's a little known fact that I had an interview with them back in 1993-ish, before I decided to go back to University. I had interviews with a few companies whose names might ring bells: SCO for example, and McDonald Douglas.

Anyway, I decided to install the emulator and proceeded to have some fun loading up some related retro goodness. Even for me, we are getting into some seriously perverted territory here: Unix running on a DEC MIPs box emulating a PC!

SoftPC on the DECstation


First up was Little Beige Box's The Adventure World Alpha 2 release.

SoftPC - The Adventure World


Next up was Jason Knight's 16 Color Demo. This didn't fair so well!

SoftPC - 16 Color Demo


SoftPC - 16 Color Demo


SoftPC - 16 Color Demo


Finally I thought I'd try jzip for DOS. This worked very well.

SoftPC - jZip MS-DOS


The bookreader documentation is fairly extensive for the emulator. In order to get applications into the emulator the easiest method is to define a drive letter to map to an Ultrix directory. I modified drive E: to point to ~/softpc then ftp'd the files and executables required into that directory, and bingo they magically appeared in the emulator.

SoftPC - Documentation