First VAX Machines

Inmos, Bristol had 2 VAX 11-785s which were used to store the design database and were also used for email and general administration. Newport also had some of these machines. By 1990, they had mostly been replaced by micro-VAXs. The actual designs were done on FEPs (front-end processors) and these were gradually replaced by Sun workstations. Inmos needed to get rid of the VAXs so one of the students actually bought them for 1. Each year Inmos employed around 4 students on work experience before they went to university.

This picture shows the first of the VAXs. We borrowed Denis Nicole's Land Rover, hired a trailer and collected the VAX from Newport. The VAX had to be stored somewhere so Andy Harley kindly lent  his garage. The student responsible for all this was Rupert Pigott (on the left). The others are Tony Jarvis, Richard Porter, Stuart Menefy and Gareth Jones.

This photo show Brian Parsons who was the main architect of the T9000 CPU. Brian studied at Manchester University where he worked on the MU5 (1970s?).

From there he went to Hawker Sidley and then joined Inmos in the early 1980s.  I think Inmos was the first company to get PLLs working on a CMOS process. In around 1988 when the T840 (early name for the T9) was started, he moved to CPU design where he was responsible for the "instruction grouping" superscalar architecture. He also devised a formal proof technique using diagrams (he didn't have any formal math training) to show that the new architecture was a correct implementation of the Transputer instruction set. This work was later verified by "Formal Systems" at Oxford (a start-up formed from the programming research group there). Brian liked to work late at night and would often start his day at 5:00 PM and work until 6:00 AM the next morning which is why his office appears to be so dark.

 

Main entrance to Bristol Design Centre (late 1980's)

Main entrance to Bristol Design Centre (late 1980's)

Christmas tree at the Bristol Design Centre from Andy Harley's garden. One of the ornaments is 4 inch wafer which probably is a C004. The parrot was apparently brought by Miles Chesney (the manager in the early days of Inmos) which was  inherited as their mascot.

Julian Lewis and Mark Hill

Bob Krysiak