So, I replied telling the basic history of Nixdorf, and a little something about the computer he had, and, if he would be willing to sell it and what I intended to do with it. To cut a long and very happy story short, yes, he would be willing to sell it.
Now Germany isn’t really that far, but it’s amazing how difficult it is to arrange to get a box the size of a small refrigerator from German to the UK. The shipping company wanted to know the dimensions, weight, required that it be securely mounted on a pallet and then boxed up.
Johannes of course is a busy chap, and it’s not fair to expect him to bundle the machine up like that, but, he offered. I will be eternally grateful for him doing this as the only other solution was for me to go there and get it. It would be cool to have pictures of the machine as it was found and packaged and then shipped and Johannes has taken lots of great pictures. It also shows how much work he’s had to do to get a pallet, cut it down to size and then pack everything in as tight a space as possible.
Today I received an Email from Johannes telling me that the transport company will be collecting the computer tomorrow and it should take between two and five working days to get to me.
From what I’ve seen from the all the pictures, I’m not overly confidant that the computer will be actually working, and getting spare parts is almost impossible. However, there are only really three things that can go wrong; some more serious than others.
The 8870 uses a completely propriety VDU and communication protocol, so if the single supplied terminal is faulty, I’m not going to be able to boot the system. There’s a good chance that any large electrolytic or X2 capacitors in the main PSU have dried out, or that the hard drive has either become corrupted of gets damaged in transit.
The simplest of these to rectify are dried out capacitors. It’s just a simple matter of finding replacements of the same specification. A faulty VDU may be repairable depending on what the fault is, but a dead hard disk is a real problem. Remember that all hardware is proprietary so it’s not a matter of finding a disk unit that’s compatible with the controller, its finding a drive that capable of behaving exactly like the original drive. Then there’s the problem of locating an operating system. Johannes has checked and there are no backup tapes stored with the machine. Still, no point in worrying about it just yet.
The plan is once the machine arrives to photograph it, and then strip it down. This will be a bit of a challenge as we don’t have the cabinet keys for it so I’m going to have to drill the locks out. I’ll then remove and open up all the plates and clean out all the dust that always accumulates. Next I’ll remove all the fan modules and clean them. I’ll also open up and clean the PSU. Once that’s all been done, I’ll replace the PSU and fans and switch the PSU into service mode. Hopefully with the load from the fans, the PSU will start up and then I can check the voltages to make sure it’s running within expected parameters. I’ll leave it running like this for an hour or so to make sure there are no small explosions. All being well, I can then reassemble everything and attempt an IPL.
However, working or not it's a great find and will give me a chance to document and photograph the hardware.
Watch this space.