GEC Series 63

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GEC Series 63 product logo

The GEC Series 63 was a 32-bit minicomputer produced by GEC Computers Limited of the UK during the 1980s in conjunction with A.B. Dick in USA.[1] During development, the computer was known as the R Project. The hardware development (under Dick Ruth and Ed Mack) was done in Scottsdale, Arizona whilst the software was the responsibility of GEC in Dunstable, UK. The hardware made early use of pipeline concepts, processing one instruction whilst completing the preceding one.

Initially, the OS4000 operating system from the GEC 4000 series was ported as OS6000 (under pressure from the marketing department, concerned about compatibility with its existing user base) but subsequently a version of UNIX System V Release 2 was added - largely to compete with VAX machines which were becoming the fashionable computer of choice amongst academics, concerned about being able to access software from US colleagues. This was the first port of UNIX to a different processor order code undertaken in the UK. [High Level Hardware, based in Oxford, ported 4BSD Unix to their own machine, the Orion. This was fully operational before GEC 63 Unix was. Large chunks of the GEC 63 Unix port were done at the University of Edinburgh.] The C compiler, necessary to effect the implementation, was first produced for OS4000 and cross compiled.

There were plans for six models, but only two models of the GEC Series 63 were ever produced: the 63/30 and the 63/40.[1] The 63/40 added an embedded GEC 4160 minicomputer running OS4000 to provide additional communications features (such as X.25 and X.29 access).

The Series 63 was used by several UK universities, including the Alvey Project. One of the first student-run university computing facilities in the UK, The Tardis Project, was established in 1987 in the Department of Computer Science of the University of Edinburgh using a Series 63. The name came from the resemblance of the Series 63's large blue cabinet to Doctor Who's time machine.

The Series 63 was discontinued in August 1987 after disappointing sales. Approximately 22 systems were sold during the lifetime of the system.

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  1. ^ a b Lavington, Simon (2011). "14.5 — The GEC Series 63: A Very Difficult Project". Moving Targets — Elliott-Automation and the Dawn of the Computer Age in Britain, 1947-67. Springer. ISBN 978-1-84882-932-9. 

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