Columbia University Computing History
Gandalf PACX box
Datamedia terminal with PACX box
Perkin-Elmer terminal with PACX
A little blue box like the one at left was next to every terminal on the
Columbia University campus (except those connected directly to departmental
minicomputers or modems) from 1977 until 1988. The box was hardwired back
to the Gandalf PACX IV crossbar
in the machine room, which in turn was wired to the various
central computers. Two little thumbwheels allowed you to choose the desired
service (PDP-11, DEC-20, IBM mainframe). A great deal of confusion arose
because of the different terminal settings required to access the different
hosts, and the difficulty in reconfiguring the terminals -- anything ranging
from DIP switches to buttons and dials to on-screen setup modes. Terminals
in public areas were often left in some strange configuration to "reserve"
them for later use.
In 1988 the PACX was replaced by the IBM/Rolm CBX, a
digital voice telephone system for the Morningside campus that also provided
serial-port connections through data connectors on the back of the phone.
In 1999, by which time Ethernet (on the same Rolm wiring) was ubiquitous, Rolm
serial data connections were discontinued.
From CUCCA Newsletter, circa 1978; CLICK to magnify.
Also see: Sample page from CUCCA
Terminal and Plotter User Guide (1982).