Columbia University Computing History   

Scrapped terminals at the Kermit Project 2006 and 2011

Frank da Cruz
12 July 2006
Revised, updated, modernized 24 March 2021

Kermit project terminals that were thrown out in 2006; see explanatory text below the images.

  (Click on any photo to enter)

Part 1: 2006

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Part 2: 2011

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The Kermit Project at Columbia University (1981-2011) prided itself on supplying complete and accurate emulation of a wide variety of popular and not-so-popular terminals in its Kermit communications software; notably in MS-DOS Kermit (for IBM PCs and compatibles and non-compatibles) and, later, in Kermit 95 for Microsoft Windows 95 and later. To this end we maintained a large collection of the actual terminals we wanted to emulate. Most of these were donated by institutions, government agencies, or companies that needed a particular emulation. However in 2006, Columbia was hiring more and people who needed office space and, at the same time, cutting back its support for the Kermit project, and so directed us to throw out all of these terminals to free up the room. These are some photos I took before and during the process. I never bothered to put any text or captions, but now 15 years laters I thought I'd fill in the blanks, but (a) the photos were taken with a primitive lo-res digital camera so in most cases the logos and labels are not legible, and (b) memory fades. The first group of photos was taken in Jeff Altman's office after he was laid off. Later, Jeff wrote:

One of the things I enjoyed most when working on Kermit was the ability to travel the world and meet users wherever I went. Frank, and to a lesser extent myself, acquired a large number of manuals, terminals, software, and computers and more that by the time they came into our possession were already facing extinction.

After my departure from Columbia University in 2003 Frank was forced to scrap a large number of items because my office space was no longer available for storage. Some of the equipment which was destroyed in that purging were military terminals whose manuals were labeled top secret. They came into my possession on a drive from Charlotte NC to New York through Virginia where a concerned soul literally met me behind an abandoned warehouse and the machines and manuals fell off the back of a truck into my back seat.

I am particularly concerned about the loss of the early and rare terminals because in my time working with them I found the manuals to be frequently lacking in accuracy. The only way to know how the actual terminal sequence parser would behave was to write test sequences and pass them through the physical machine. The manuals were nice to have but without the terminal, an accurate emulator could never be developed.

When the Kermit Project was canceled in 2011 another load of terminals, PCs, and other equipment was discarded; these are shown below in Part 2, in which the images are much sharper.

Created by Photogallery 3.09 April 6, 2021