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Old January 12th, 2004, 04:59 AM   #1
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I Found The Computer That Was Used In Battlestar Galactica!

The computer is the Tektronix 4051 Graphics System .I found it by accident when at this link below:

http://www.rdrop.com/~jimw/jcgm-mic.shtml

This link says it was used on the show. Unfortunately this site is in the process of closing down. so the there is nothing else but the info on that page. The Picture is all the way down the page.

It uses a Storage tube vector graphics display technology. To understand how it works, and why the displays have that strange glow, I present some paragraphs from this link:
http://www.cca.org/vector/

Storage tube vector graphics terminals differ from refreshing vector graphics terminals in that the display stored whatever was drawn on it, and did not have to be refreshed many times a second in order to maintain a continuous image. One problem with refreshing vector displays is that they must continuously scan through the list of objects they are displaying, redrawing them as fast as possible, to maintain a visible image. Unlike a raster device where the path the electron beam follows is always the same, and always takes the same amount of time to follow, the path the electron beam follows on a vector display takes longer and longer as more objects are drawn. Therefore once a certain number of lines are being displayed, the display begins to flicker. Display list memory also limited the number of line segments that could be viewed simultaneously.

To get around these problems, the storage tube was used. In a storage tube, there are actually two electron guns. One draws lines on the screen, the other bathes the entire display in electrons at a lower intesity. This second beam keeps any phospher that has been activated continuously illuminated. Thus when a line has been drawn with the first beam, the second beam keeps it lit. Therefore the terminal only has to draw a line once, and it remains on the screen. There is no flicker, and no problem with having lots and lots of objects on the screen at once.

The trade-off is that it cannot erase anything except by clearing the entire screen. Therefore you cannot have motion or any sort of animation on the screen. Later displays got around this by using a lower-intensity mode for drawing which was not intense enough for the phospher to remain lit by the second beam. When it wanted to draw a permenant line, it still could, by increasing the intensity of the drawing beam for that one object. Later tektronics terminals did this. The early models did not, except for the special cases of the cursor, and displaying cross-hairs to let the user select a point.

Some more Links:

http://www.atariarchives.org/bcc2/showpage.php?page=282
This Link describes in detail about the console. Shows the Computer with a screen Image, in a black and white picture.

http://www.tekscope-museum.de/4050_S...050_stuff.html
This Link says it was the Tectronix 4050 that was used in BSG. I have all the episodes on tape. When watching the episodes, the 4051 looks like the real deal.

Because Most of the web pages show the computer off, the only Page that shows an image
that comes close is this link:

http://www.mindspring.com/~jforbes2/tek4010/
This is not the 4051 but it is a decent picture of These type of Displays. It is a color picture. Notice that familiar faint glow of the screen, it looks like the vector images on BSG.


The only problem is this computer console is a very rare item. I could not find it on ebay. If it ever shows up, I want this little gem for my collection. I hope that you enjoy this thread.
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Old January 13th, 2004, 08:32 PM   #2
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Vectrex thanks for posting this.

On BSG they looked so easy and COOL to use!
Then I had to work with some ....................

I hated those computers.
They were constantly blowing CIRCUITS!

I remember one job I had, I lost THREE computers
within TWO HOURS because of BLOWN circuits!
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Old January 13th, 2004, 08:33 PM   #3
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By the way Vectrex ........ Welcom to the club
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Old January 13th, 2004, 08:46 PM   #4
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I dub thee the Official BSG Computer Historian. Welcome to Colonial fleets.
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Old January 13th, 2004, 09:35 PM   #5
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Great find Vectrex! Thanks so much for the tech info. I love stuff like that!

I thought those were vector displays since the text did not look pixel-based. I remember those early days, a couple arcade games used vector displays as well. In fact, one was my absolute fav, called Tail Gunner. It used a blue vector display inside a booth with massive 3D subwoofer sound. Loved it!!!

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Old January 13th, 2004, 09:38 PM   #6
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I used one of those in my job a couple thousand years ago.....



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Old January 13th, 2004, 11:55 PM   #7
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I loved the old Battlezone tank game. Also Asteroids and a few other goodies.
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Old January 14th, 2004, 02:10 AM   #8
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very cool find, also very nice to meet you. welcome to the fleets.

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Old January 14th, 2004, 08:38 AM   #9
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I loved the tail gunner game, Muffit!
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Old January 14th, 2004, 10:30 AM   #10
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Hi Shiningstar! So glad you knew about it and liked it too!
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Old January 14th, 2004, 07:10 PM   #11
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I loved Asteriods too. I still have that one!
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Old January 14th, 2004, 09:17 PM   #12
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Hi Everybody;
I am suprised that I got so many responses so fast in this thread. I appreciate the welcome! Thanks.

To shiningstar : If you are reading this, When you worked on the Tek 4051, do you remember which of the circuits had the most problems? was it the Power Suppy to the CRTs or was it the mother boards? The reason I ask is, if I find this computer on ebay someday, I would like to know what I am Up against. I am sorry to hear that you had a bad experience with this type of computer.

To jjrakman: Thanks for the honor. Is your avatar the new verson of a Living Cylon? Is this Cylon going to be used in the movie?

To muffit: I never saw that game in my town, but I just looked it up on the internet and found out this game was made by Cinematronics. My favorite game is Star Castle!

To Dawg: Did you had a bad experience with the Tek 4051, like shiningstar did?

To Conundrum7g: I also Love Battlezone.I found out that they made two types of that game, I played the version you had to look through a veiw finder. I see you like 7 days. What's your favorite episode?

To Nightscape2112: It is nice to meet you too. I am glad that you enjoyed this thread.

Again thanks for the Hospitality!
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Old January 14th, 2004, 09:41 PM   #13
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Hey Vectrex and Shiningstar, here's an interesting site...

http://caesar.logiqx.com/html/emus/m...95/tailg.shtml

Unfortunately, the emulator does not have sound (sigh). That was the best part...

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Old January 14th, 2004, 09:48 PM   #14
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Ooh! Memory lane! I guess it was TailGunner II that I liked. TailGunner I was not in a booth. The sound was awesome - yet it was mono!

http://www.klov.com/game_detail.php?...&game_id=10013

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Old January 15th, 2004, 08:35 AM   #15
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It was BOTH! The day I lost three computers in one
day due to the circuits blowing or shorting out .........
The computer tech said that BOTH the Power Supplys and
the Mother Boards were 'damaged'. After that I
WANTED to go BACK to the VACUUM TUBES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

All I can say NOW is THANK GOD for Microsoft and Bill Gates!
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Old January 15th, 2004, 08:35 AM   #16
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Muffit thanks for the link. It bought back so many
FUNNNNNNNNN Memorys!
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Old January 15th, 2004, 12:52 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by shiningstar
Muffit thanks for the link. It bought back so many
FUNNNNNNNNN Memorys!
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Old January 15th, 2004, 01:25 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by shiningstar
It was BOTH! The day I lost three computers in one
day due to the circuits blowing or shorting out .........
The computer tech said that BOTH the Power Supplys and
the Mother Boards were 'damaged'. After that I
WANTED to go BACK to the VACUUM TUBES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

All I can say NOW is THANK GOD for Microsoft and Bill Gates!
*cough* I think you actually mean thank god for IBM.
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Old January 15th, 2004, 01:44 PM   #19
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Holy - - - - !!!!

I didn't know anyone remembered the tailgunner game but me. I played it once back in some arcade here in Las Vegas back in like. . . 1979 but it was the coolest thing next to Battlezone.

Talk about flashbacks . . .

Ethan
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Old January 15th, 2004, 01:49 PM   #20
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Hi Ethan! Welcome to Colonial Fleets! Yep, to be honest, I was never much of an arcade gamer (lost my quarters too fast), but TailGunner II had me hooked. If I remember right, it was double the other games - 50 cents a pop. But I didn't care, that wraparound sound was awesome!

Glad you remember it too! And thanks Vectrex for starting this thread!
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Old January 15th, 2004, 04:37 PM   #21
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welcome to the club Ethan.

As for IBM ............ I spent almost as much
DOWNTIME on their stuff as I did with the Techtronix
computers and their burnt circuit and mother boards
LOL ............... I pretty much stayed away from
computers until Bill Gates and MSN after that.
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Old January 15th, 2004, 09:49 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by shiningstar
It was BOTH! The day I lost three computers in one
day due to the circuits blowing or shorting out .........
The computer tech said that BOTH the Power Supplys and
the Mother Boards were 'damaged'. After that I
WANTED to go BACK to the VACUUM TUBES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

All I can say NOW is THANK GOD for Microsoft and Bill Gates!
I can see why this computer is so rare! I originally thought that tektronix was a company that produce the highest quality of electronic products. This system might have been a victim of a rush production, or they were just careless in the design. Anyway I was hoping that I could find this piece of history for my collection. It would have been cool to get this computer so you could progrm your own vectorscan video games! or to use it for Battlestar Galatica roll playing games. The possibilities would be endless!
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Old January 15th, 2004, 09:53 PM   #23
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Thanks for the links Muffit. Espacially the second one. The Killer List Of Video Games Web Page has a lot of the games that was in my town espaceilly ripoff and star castle. It also has Cosmic Chasm, This game first appeared for the Vectrex home video game system produced by CGE. Also This was the first home game to be converted into a commercial arcade game!
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Old January 15th, 2004, 09:54 PM   #24
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Thanks for the links Muffit. Especially the second one. The Killer List Of Video Games Web Page has a lot of the games that was in my town especially ripoff and star castle. It also has Cosmic Chasm, This game first appeared for the Vectrex home video game system produced by CGE. Also This was the first home game to be converted into a commercial arcade game!

Last edited by vectrex70; January 15th, 2004 at 10:05 PM..
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Old January 15th, 2004, 10:06 PM   #25
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Your quite welcome Vectrex! It was fun to find these!

Oh, and don't be too hard on Tektronix. As I remember, computers and video displays (when they had one) were nearly always broken wherever I worked in the late 70's and early 80's, regardless of brand. Quality just wasn't taken seriously enough back then. As an example, I had something like 5 Commodore 64's and my friend had 3 - they were ALL broken after only a month (which is why we had so many). And I cannot tell you how many people I knew who had IBM ATs that were being used as expensive paperweights. Miniframes from this period didn't fare any better.

Luckily, today video displays are extremely reliable, as are most of the computers that drive them. We've just graduated from the "being able to do something at all" age to the "being able to do it well" age. At least IMHO...

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Old January 15th, 2004, 10:16 PM   #26
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Sorry for the double post. I was having problems with my computer while I was trying to correct the spelling for the post to muffit.

I just wish more of these computers was made so I can get my hands on one. I see muffit you had the Commodore 64, I had one too. I had a friend that was a hacker for the commoder 64, and pirated games for it!
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Old January 15th, 2004, 10:28 PM   #27
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Hi again Vectrex! Actually, the C64 was not my system of choice. I only had it cuz it was the only (affordable) system with a MIDI music sequencer back then. That's all I used it for. I think I've had just about every micro there is(!) Each has been good in at least one area, while none was good at everything. I even ran into a complete development kit for an Atari 800 at a garage sale, so I played around with writing some stuff for it, just for ducks.

I actually miss the old days. I think the label "PC" is a misnomer now. The IBM compatible is definitely /not/ a personal computer, however it is a good small business computer. A PC is something you love so much it's almost like a friend and you hate to see it go (at least that's how us 'puter folk felt back then). We don't see that nowadays, instead we can't wait to upgrade to get around all the things it can't do (and yelling at something constantly does not endear it any).

Anywho, that's how I remember those days...

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Old January 16th, 2004, 02:03 AM   #28
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The C64 was not my system of choice either. My system of choice was the Vectrex System made by GCE. It was a complete self contained system. It had a 9x5 vertical B&W vectorscan monitor with a built in asteroids clone called Minestorm. It came out with a total of 50 vector graphic games before the video game crash in 1984. Each game came with a cartridge, manual and a colored cover overlay. The overlay was needed to give the illusion of color and reduce the flickering, due to the fact this was a refreshing vector graphics monitor. This system showed great promise. It came out with a light pen so you can draw images on the screen, and a 3D imager goggles so you could play special 3D games. I got both of these. It was going to come out with a computer keyboard attachment with the ability to program in BASIC. Also an improved vectrex with a full colored monitor was in the works. Unfortunately this did not happen and they stopped making everything in 1983. There are vectrex computer keyboard prototypes out there but like the tektronix 4051, I will probably never see it in my lifetime. If it ever shows up on ebay, it would be worth thousands of dollars, something I do not have. But there is still hope for this system, there are a lot of assembly language programmers that are still making games for this system, and hardware system specialists that are makeing special attachments for the vectrex. It's just a matter of time someone out there with hardware and software talents may make a keyboard attachment. I hope that happens soon. The possibilies of this system is unlimited. Even though you could make a Battlestar Galactica vectorscan game, Or an 64K interactive roll playing game with assemblers and with a seperate PC, It would be alot easier to program in basic and a keyboard would be less hardware then the special conversion hardware for a PC.

If anyone is reading this and does not know what the Vectrex System is, Here is a very good link:

http://www.classicgaming.com/vectrex/

As for PCs muffit I agree with you a 100 Percent. In the early days of the PC, they were cool and reasonably affordable. Then When IBM and Apple came out with very expensive PCs with closed architecture it changed everthing for a brief while. When PC clones came out, it forced these very expensive PCs and Apple to compete with them. If it were not for the IBM Clones, PCs would probably be over $5000 today! But the down side is PC Clones are making proprietary base systems and open architecure is getting scarce again. I like the nonproprietary base systems because you can gradually upgrade and you save a lot of money. But with proprietary systems you have a limited ability to upgrade and ultimatly have to by a whole new system every 5 years. Also They are a Real Pain to open and Install things.

Last edited by vectrex70; January 17th, 2004 at 07:40 AM..
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Old January 16th, 2004, 02:11 AM   #29
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I taught myself assembly language on the old C64 way back then.
Actually,I learned several programming languages. Too bad I never got a degree or a programming job.
I see all these kids using Visual Basic and selling these toys to companies for big bucks and just have to laugh.

I have one of the last versions of the scaled down Amiga's in the original box in a closet somewhere. The first Amigas I thought were pretty exciting.
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Old January 16th, 2004, 02:44 AM   #30
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Hi Darth Marley
Thanks for dropping By!
I see you have a new Avatar. So you learned assembly on the C64, Did you use the Assembly Cart? I never had an Amiga but I did research on them. One website claims that they Used Amigas to do the Special Effects for Babylon 5!

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