Unigraphics Workstations

Here in the Hall of Hardware's Workstation exhibit you will find photos and diagrams of the various types of
Workstations that Unigraphics ran on.  Note that this section will only cover the units that were manufactured (or augmented with additional devices) by McAuto.  Also, all of these stations, with the exception of the ADS-100 (A-100), were dependent design stations that required a central CPU and were connected to those CPU's by serial interfaces (originally 9600 baud and later with optional higher speed serial interfaces).  The items are placed in roughly chronological order.


The original Unigraphics Workstation configuration (circa 1973)
4014_oldest[1].jpg This shows the original Unigraphics Workstation configuration consisting of a Tektronix 4014 storage-tube display, a 32 button PFK (Programmed Function Keyboard), message monitor, data-tablet and hard-copy unit.  Oh yes, the tables were also included (the chair was extra).  Note that this configuration (less the hard-copy unit and the optional data-tablet) was known as a "Unigraphics Model 319 Workstation".

Unigraphics Model 319 Workstation with the upright PFK (circa 1976-81)

This is the more modern Model 319 Workstation configuration with the larger and upright PFK.  This was a very widely used configuration and was still supported by the software until the release of Unigraphics V10.0.  The user interfaced with the software by selection options via the 32 button PFK in response to menus displayed on the message monitor (the medium display mounted above the main graphics screen).  Cursor position was controlled by thumb-wheels right of the keyboard (there was also an optional joy-stick as well as data tablet interface) and selection was done by pushing the spacebar.


Diagram from the Unigraphics Users Manual of the 4014 workstation.



Elevation drawing of Tektronix 4014 Workstation w/message monitor

This diagram shows the elevation views of the standard Tektronix 4014 Workstation.

Plan layout of Unigraphics Model 319 Workstation

Layout diagram showing the plan view of a Unigraphics Model 319 Workstation including the work tables, chair and hard copy unit.  Thus diagram was provided to new customers to help them with site planning.

Screen shot from Tektronix 4014 display
4014_display[1].jpg The Tektronix 4014 Workstation was a DVST (Direct View, Storage-Tube) display system.  This provided very high resolution (4096 lines) however there was no support for color except of course "light green" and "dark green".  Also, due to the way storage tube technology worked, objects that were deleted or blanked were not immediately removed from the screen but rather they were marked with the character "X" and could only be removed by hitting the "Repaint" button which caused the entire display to be erased and then only the visible curves get redrawn.  Since this could take some time, particularly on complex drawings, experienced users learned to work with a large number of deleted objects still displayed and would only perform a repaint when the things just got too cluttered to understand, whereas novice users tended to hit repaint after the deletion of each object.

ADS-100 Unigraphics Standalone Workstation (circa 1982)
ADS-100[1].jpg This is a photo of an ADS-100C Unigraphics Standalone Workstation.  The ADS stood for Autonomous Design Station but this designation was later changed to A-100.  This was the first single user, self contained workstation.  Also it was the first complete CAD system that sold for under $100,000 (hardware and software).  There were several optional displays including a Tektronix DVST (the lowest cost option), a Megatek Monochrome and a Megatek Color (the most expensive) available.  The DVST was still a high resolution 4096 lines but the monochrome and color displays were 1024 X 1024 raster units.  The CPU was a repackaged Data General S140 with 64K memory installed in the left-hand bay of the desk while the graphics display and power supply was in right-hand bay.  It had an internal 25 MB hard drive for the OS and the Unigraphics software but user files were stored on 8 inch, 1.2 MB floppies using the external drive shown to the left of the display unit.  Oh, and one other thing, the chair was now part of the package and was included in the price.


The diagram above is from the Unigraphics Users Manual and shows the major components of the ADS/DDS-100 workstation.


DDS-100 Unigraphics Workstation (circa 1982)
DDS-100[1].jpg This is an example of a DDS-100 (Dependent Design Station) later renamed the D-100.  This workstation was connected to a separate CPU and also came with either a DVST or raster display.  Note that since the DDS did not have a self-contained CPU there was no equipment bay on the left-hand side.

DDS-100C Unigraphics Workstation

Here is a closer view of a DDS-100C workstation showing the layout of the graphic screen, message monitor, keyboard and new redesigned PFK.  Also note that for cursor control, the thumb-wheels have been replaced with a joy-stick.

Screen shot from Megatek raster display
Raster_Display[1].jpg The Megatek raster display used in the DDS-100C and ADS-100C workstations was the first color device supported by Unigraphics.  It had a resolution of 1024 X 1024 and supported 7 different entity colors, which at the time was state-of-the-art as most competitive systems only supported 512 X 512 color displays.

D-90 Unigraphics Workstation (circa 1983)
D-90[1].jpg The D-90 was a raster based low cost modular system designed to replace the Tektronix storage-tube systems.  The first model had only a black & white display and was the first system with separate enclosures for the message monitor and the graphics display.  The flexibility this afforded was very popular with customers and this style was to become very popular as newer and higher performing terminals were introduced over the next several years.  The D-90 was also a departure from D-100 in that the hardware was not packaged with free-standing furniture.  Later there was a color version introduced that was designated the D-90C.

D-2300 Unigraphics Workstation (circa 1984)
D-2300[1].jpg The D-2300 was the most advanced dedicated design station ever developed for CAD/CAM applications.  It was an all-in-one desktop configuration and supported full 3D high resolution color display (there was no monochrome configuration).  It included dials for dynamic control of the display and the PFK was incorporated into a single keyboard with the traditional alpha-numeric keyboard.  In what many people thought was a step backwards, the D-2300 used thumbwheels for cursor control (this was based on extensive studies involving both experienced and novice users).  While this was a very powerful station it was also very expensive and it was plagued with several minor yet annoying problems, such as being very sensitive to static electricity.

Screen shots from D-2300 display
D-2300_screen_2[1].jpg These two images are screen shots from the D-2300 Unigraphics station.  The D-2300 had the highest resolution of any color workstation at that time with an effective resolution of 3072 X 2304 pixels (the Megatek based display driver used a combination of high resolution screens and anti-aliasing firmware).

D-125C Unigraphics Workstation (circa 1985)
D-125C[1].jpg The D-125, and the later D-135 Unigraphics stations, were the last manufactured by McAuto and were the last to carry a McDonnell Douglas nameplate.  After this series of stations was discontinued, McAuto sold standard vendor supplied, off-the-shelf displays and eventually standalone workstations running first VMS (DEC VAX) and later Unix and eventually Windows NT and Windows 2000.  These were also the last stations to use a separate message monitor

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