Saturday, September 30, 2023

Forty Years of Personal Computing - Wyse-85 Terminal

By the summer of 1985, my original CT-64 terminal felt limited. Sixteen rows of 64 characters didn't seem like enough. Especially when at work I regularly used screens with at least 25 rows of 80 characters. In 1977, terminals with such capabilities were around $1000 -- way beyond my modest budget. By 1985, much more capable terminals were available for about half that price. It was time to upgrade.

August of 1985, I purchased a Wyse-85 terminal for about $700 -- a good price for the time. The terminal offed a DEC VT-220, VT-100 and VT-52 emulator, so it was plenty capable. It sported 24 or 25 rows of 80 or 132 columns on the screen. I purchased the green phosphor screen.

The most important thing, however, about the Wyse-85 compared to the CT-64 was speed. The CT-64 was limited to a paltry 1200 bps. The Wyse-85 had a top speed of 38400 bps. Thirty-two times faster. The CT-64 would take more than eight seconds to write every character on the 16 x 64 screen. The Wyse-85 could write an entire 25 x 132 screen in less than a second. 

The Wyse-85 was such a joy to use compared to the CT-64, I couldn't believe I hadn't done this sooner. 

I did have trouble with this terminal when I tried to use it in the shack back in the late 1980s. The keyboard scan generated a fair amount of RFI. Putting several ferrite toroids on the keyboard cable helped a little, but did not eliminate the problem. 

I still have this terminal. It's been stored in the original box since November of 1994. I hope it still works.

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