August 30, 2017

Convergent Technologies MiniFrame Found!

Just a few days ago, in the mfm-discuss Google Group, Frank Hintsch in Hamburg, Germany, asked for some help imaging the MFM hard drive on his Convergent Technoloties MiniFrame.  We were VERY excited to see this message pop up, because before this week, we haven't been able to find any surviving MiniFrames.

As of today, this MiniFrame is the only confirmed survivor that we have found.

Do you have a MiniFrame hidden away somewhere?  If so, please let us know!  Either way, please enjoy the pictures and story below.

For those of you who are Convergent Technologies Alum Facebook Group members, we have a discussion going about this over there.

So here it is, in Frank's own words:

I bought it in 1985, worked with it some years (software developing), then it was stored away in the basement. Now I had the time to recover this nice machine. It is starting, booting and prompting for login! But dam it! I forgot the root (and any other) password!
I discussed this problem with the German forum for "classical computers" (it's like america's VCF). The conclusion is: Read in the hard disk with MFM emulator and try a decryption of /etc/passwd entries.

March 26, 2017

August 19, 2016

InfoWorld - July 23, 1984: Convergent Technologies designs computers for name-brand makers

Convergent Technologies designs computers for name-brand makers

This is a fantastic article that a friend just pointed out to me.

It chronicles some company insights and culture into a time when the MiniFrame had just been developed, and just on the cusp of the "secret" Convergent-built AT&T UNIX PC 7300 project. 
Two MiniFrames

Steve Blank has a strong presence even today.  I love his writings of:
(where Steve actually hyperlinks this very article)

August 14, 2015

QIC-24 Tape Data Block Format Decoding & Analysis

Please also visit

So far, it seems that the comprehensive details of how the magnetic flux transitions are arranged on QIC tape using the QIC-24 standard, have been lost in the halls of time, and never made it to the internet, at least not in a complete way.

In my opinion, should be the most likely to have this information, but they seem lacking in the QIC-24 (and QIC-11) department.

Well, I am hoping that this page will fill in a lot of the missing information about QIC-24 tape format.

Before diving in, I wanted to clarify some of the "standard" terminology that surrounds this very mid-1980s QIC tape technology.  I've tried to simplify the definitions, and I put them in my own words.

QIC-24 is a tape data read/write format, defined best by 

August 7, 2015

MightyFrame Games Download

I discovered last night, immediately after setting up my vintage UNIX/CTIX display in the Whiskey Pirate Crew room at DEFCON 23 (2015), the crowd has spoken!  What do all of you hackers want to see?  Vintage MightyFrame games!

So, as a tribute to Whiskey Pirate Crew's hospitality and welcome of my vintage UNIX display at Defcon 2015, here they are:

found in the CTIX 5.25.1 factory-fresh install.

On the MightyFrame, these games reside at /usr/games

August 5, 2015

MightyFrame Peripheral Mounting Brackets

If you ever come across a full-height MFM hard drive or QIC tape drive with this style of mounting bracket, chances are that it came from a Convergent Technologies machine, most likely a MightyFrame.  Please drop us a note if you ever come across any of these:

MightyFrame S/320 Tape Drive mounting bracket

(The hard drive mounting bracket for this machine was misplaced when it was first removed)

July 11, 2015

Wangtek 5099 Tape Drive Main Board #30509 "Tap-In"

In an effort to eventually build a device that reads raw magnetic flux transitions on all QIC-11 and QIC-24 tape formats (plus a few others, hopefully), this page is dedicated to the analysis of the technical design and circuitry of the Wangtek 5099 Tape Drive with Main Board Assembly #30509.

The most comprehensive manual for this tape drive is the 


Before we begin, I'll point out that the main card-edge connector on this board seems to contain the connections necessary to at least read "data pulses", which would be the interpretation of the magnetic flux transitions on the tape.  These are standard pins on a QIC-36 interface, which seems to be what the main connector on this board provides
Pin 2 - Go
Pin 4 - Reverse
Pin 26 - Data Read Pulse
Pin 38 - Tachometer

June 14, 2015

Wangtek 5099 Controller Board #30425 for QIC-02 interface

I'm trying to get a Wangtek 5099 to work with my MightyFrame.

Right now, the MightyFrame uses an Archive 5945, but that only reads 60Mb 9-track QIC-24 tapes.  I want to read older 20Mb 4-track QIC-11 tapes, thus the attempt to switch to the Wangtek 5099, which has the physical hardware capability of reading those.

So, here's what I've discovered so far on my MightyFrame with it's original tape drive: 

Motherboard -> Tape Drive Interface Board -> Archive 5945L


Motherboard -> Tape Drive Interface Board = QIC-02 interface

and where

Tape Drive Interface Board -> Archive 5945L = QIC-36 interface

June 7, 2015

MightyFrame Motherboard Jumpers

This board pictured is from a MightyFrame S/320, best we can tell.  (Model CG-5140)

Without any MightyFrame hardware manuals as of yet, we can only guess what these jumpers are for.  We are currently asking around.  See the discussions at: 

May 23, 2015

1986 Convergent Technologies Status Codes Manual 2nd Edition

Days ago, I missed buying this very hard to find manual on eBay.  While not directly about the MightyFrame, the fact that it references the MightyFrame and CTIX is something that would have been very important to our MightyFrame and Convergent Technologies resource aggregation efforts.

May 12, 2015

Terminator 'B' Box on 34-pin MFM Cable

The MightyFrame S/320 has a more unique 34-pin cable for connecting to its 3 available MFM (ST-506) drives.  

The 3 drives are labeled D0, D1, and D2.

The card-edge connector for each drive is clearly labeled, and missing very specific contacts, as follows:

D0 is absent 28, 30, & 32.

D1 is absent 26, 30, & 32.

D2 is absent 26, 28, & 32.

April 21, 2015

Reading & Re-Creating QIC Tapes (for the MightyFrame)

(Note that this is on modern Linux using a Tandberg TDC-3620 with SCSI card, using DC600A tapes)

To read an original tape into the current working directory using my version of straight dd, create and run a script that looks like this:
(for logging purposes, I created 2 scripts, an "outer" and and "inner" script, named tapef and tapefslave respectively)

March 16, 2015

MightyFrame CTIX 5.25.1 install tape restored and used

Just this past week, I was able to image the first MightyFrame CTIX Install Tape that I've ever had access to.  (I used this process.)

5.25.1 S/120-22X-320 CTIX RAW/UPDATE 16USER

Many thanks to the generous donation of vintage CTIX cartridges from Mario at!

February 3, 2015

MightyFrame cpio demystified

I personally find cpio very confusing, and I hear that I'm not alone.

When working with the UNIX PC previously in this endeavor,  I abandoned trying, because someone had provided a working version of tar for the 3b1 (MC68010 processor).

However, when I started this post, I couldn't find the equivalent for the MightyFrame MC68020 processor.  I thought that now I must break down and learn how to use cpio.  Since then, Tom has pointed out that it is actually there, at /usr/bin/tar.  But, I found other reasons that I need cpio, such as copying an entire file/directory structure.  So, here is my analysis, such that it is:

February 1, 2015

MightyFrame: Creating A Boot Tape

First, write the VHB with bootloader, as shown in an earlier post:

sudo dd if=vhb.miti.tape.slice1.dd of=/dev/nst0 

The "nst0" tells the tape not to rewind after writing each file, or something like that.

(Note that this is on modern Linux using a Tandberg TDC-3620 with SCSI card)

Then, add the CTIX kernel after that.  We had to "adjust" the length of this file by padding the end with sets of null bytes (Hex Value 00) until the file reached exactly 396 blocks, otherwise, we got an error saying that 395+1 blocks read, 395+0 blocks written, or to that effect.

January 26, 2015

MightyFrame Formatting Maxtor XT-2190 followed by mkfs

screen took us SO long to get here.

Working with Sasa via Skype, I figured out how to trick the MightyFrame to format a Maxtor XT-2190 (physical) hard drive on D1, while the MFM Emulator ran the OS on D0.  

January 22, 2015

Creating MightyFrame /dev devices using a script on the UNIX PC

Tom Trebisky has done a marvelous job assisting us in this project.  We simply could never have gotten this far without his patient, dedicated help.

One of countless gems, Tom created this shell script to run in the /dev folder on the UNIX PC, where /dev is on slice 1, and contains other MightyFrame os files.

January 15, 2015

MightyFrame first login date: 01/14/2015

I quite literally by accident, got a command prompt on the thing for the FIRST time since I started this project!

(warning...lengthy, seemingly endless, wandering terminal screen captures follow)

January 12, 2015

Customizing inittab and rc files for boot diagnostics

The following files are customized to diagnose how the MightyFrame is executing my customized /etc/inittab and /etc/rc files while attempting to boot a version of CTIX5.11onb modified by Sasa Todorovic and renamed to CTIX5.11dbg

November 2, 2014

Swapping VHB Bootloaders - UNIX PC & MightyFrame

VHB as Volume Home Block vs. Volume Header Block

All AT&T UNIX PC paper documentation and on-screen usage documentation uses the term "Volume Home Block", but never "Volume Header Block"
The MightyFrame seems to like (or at least read) the VHB on a hard drive formatted by the UNIX PC.   On startup with a UNIX PC-formatted drive connected, the MightyFrame reads:

"executing loader from drive 0"

October 12, 2014

UMODEM - more than just an obsolete file transfer protocol...

OK, well not really...BUT...since this is the only relevant protocol to transfer files that I can find on the UNIX PC, I'm going to figure out how to get it to run on a modern linux machine.  The FTP protocol that we all know and love today, and still use, seems nowhere to be found on the UNIX PC.

October 5, 2014

WDXT-GEN2 PLUS Winchester Disk Controller Board


I am attempting to install this MFM controller card on an 
ASUS P5A ACPI BIOS Revision 1006 
which first announces as 
Voodoo3 2000 BIOS - Version 1.00.01-SD
(hardware vintage 1999-2000).  
This is successfully booting to an early version of Ubuntu from a Quantum Bigfoot ISA 12Gb Hard Drive.  I want the MFM Drives on the WDXT-GEN2 PLUS to be secondary drives.  This WDXT-GEN2 PLUS controller board is apparently factory defaulted to be the primary drive for any machine in which it is installed.  That appears to be the case here as well, because the machine will not boot with the controller card inserted, but will boot fine witout the card inserted.

October 3, 2014

Networking UNIX PC with linux on Xubuntu

The guys at this Meetup Group tonight really helped me out...
They got my modern Xubuntu machine to talk to my UNIX PC over its COM port.