11

I'm trying to do research about the Wang VS series, and there's very little on these computers on the internet (as the company was effectively dead before the internet era, this is hardly shocking).

I've stumbled across a scan of a sales brochure that suggests the final machine (VS 18950) had a CPU designated by Wang as the CP-18.

Another (partial?) listing on a hobbyist website suggests the first CPU in this line would have been the CP-3, with most of the numbers (but not all) in between being actual offerings over the years.

Given the era and market (minicomputers), I doubt that this CPU was a single chip, at least initially (and given the high cost of fabbing, maybe even the last).

Are any details known about this chip? Was it a full CPU by modern standards, or lacking hardware stacks and what not like we see on some of the more primitive sorts? Is the instruction set documented?

  • 2
    Welcome to Retrocomputing. Thanks for the detailed question; near-"dead" computers are especially in need of documenting lest the information about them is lost. – wizzwizz4 Jan 6 '17 at 18:39
  • I don't know anything about the actual computers, but I do live in Lowell, MA, where the three huge towers that Wang built are still a landmark (some might say eyesore) near the interchange of I-495 and Rt. 3. – Dave Tweed Jan 6 '17 at 20:36
  • Leon Story might be a resource, if you can figure out how to get in touch with him. – Dave Tweed Jan 6 '17 at 20:57
  • Oh I was using a Wang in the internet era, it was 1982-1985. They hid details of the CPU well behind the OS. – Chenmunka Jan 7 '17 at 19:16
  • There's quite a bit of info on bitsavers. – dirkt Jan 7 '17 at 21:01
7

According to the materials I found (I just Googled the phrase "Wang VS series CPUs" from your title), the VS series of processors implemented a slight superset of the IBM System/360 instruction set architecture. Definitely a "full CPU" by any standard. This put them in the class of "high-end minicomputer"; Wang deliberately avoided marketing them as mainframes.

At some point in the early 1980s, IBM and Motorola collaborated on a single-chip implementation of the S/370 ISA, based largely on rewriting the microcode of a 68000. It was used on a plug-in card for the PC, along with a bunch of memory, in order to give it the ability to run mainframe applications. I strongly doubt that Wang would have used this — I mention it only to give an indication of what was possible at the time.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.