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Sperry Unisys U5000 Memorial

Once upon a time, the Department of the Army ran Sperry (later acquired by Unisys) U5000 unix mini-computers. They were some of the first 32 bit 68000 series CPU unix servers. U5000's ran a port of straight "old-school" ATT System V unix, but with kludgey half baked networking (for example, ping was not included, and they couldn't use DNS.) They were a little cranky, but after a while of working on them, I fell in love with their idiosyncrasies.

When I was getting ready to say good bye to our Sperrys I took some morgue photos. Some of us fondly remember these machines, and those that went before us. Farewell, old friends.

Here is a row of Sperrys in the warehouse, awaiting the final trip to DRMO.

A row of Sperrys

Poor little soldiers.

Another row of Sperrys

CA1 was our old commo box and email server.


Here's a couple with their doors open.

Open Doors

Eeew! Sperry guts.

Sperry guts

Card rack with a 40 Mhz CPU card partially withdrawn.

CPU card

The once mighty 68040 32 bit 40 Mhz CPU card. CPU buffs may note that this was the same CPU as some of the early models of Macintosh.


One of the original internal hard drives. Compared to older "washing machine" style hard drives, I guess these were good. They threw bad blocks all the time, though. I had to put my DBA hat on and recover a database about once a week. (Despite the whining, I got good at database recoveries.)

Internal hard drive

One of the Mike Marriock external SCSI IOX drive units. These were sure sweet in comparison to the native drives.

IOX drive

Sperry expansion cabinets - 9 track tape drives and more hard drives...

Expansion cabinet

The backside of a Sperry.

Sperry rear view

A well worn line printer. Burial sponsored by Georgia Pacific and Weyerhauser.


Ashes to ashes, terminals to DRMO, dust to dust.


Email me with comments, or share funny Sperry stories (like some of those I've heard about John Hall or Mike Marriock).

And just in case you have old machines laying around, here are some ideas for recycling.

mirko on slashdot writes: "Here's a link to some weird projects that consist of recycling old servers. You have the SGI Fridge, but also the VAXbar, the SGI Espresso Machine, and the VaxTap2000Pro. Now that you recycled the case, you can get inspiration from this project in order to recycle their inside components..."

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