The IBM CS-9000 Instrument Computer

Photo Announced in June 1982. Based on the Motorola 68000 CPU, this personal workstation was intended for interfacing with laboratory instruments to acquire and analyze experimental data. In addition to a regular PC keyboard, it had a touch panel for controlling experiments. It had a custom realtime multitasking operating system called CSOS, and could be programmed in Pascal, Fortran, or Basic. The 128KB memory could be expanded up to 5MB. Up to 4 10MB hard disks could be installed, as well as various combinations of 5.25- and 8-inch floppy disks. The screen had 80 columns × 30 rows in text mode and 768 × 480 pixels in monochrome graphics mode. I/O interfaces included serial, parallel, IEEE-488, and analog, with an integrated color printer — a big package in a small footprint.

I attended a nondisclosure presentation of this product by IBM in 1980 or '81 and recall commenting that if they stripped away the instrument control panel and interfaces, they'd have a desktop computer that was miles ahead of anything else on the market. Wrong division, I guess.

Photo: www.old-computers.com.


Frank da Cruz / fdc@columbia.edu / Columbia University Computing History / Jan 2001