Rolm 1602B
Military Specification Computer

[JPEG image of Rolm 1602B]

    This machine is a highly ruggedised 16-bit minicomputer designed by the Rolm Corporation (later folded into Loral) for military and aerospace environments. It is designed to survive in very hostile environments and still remain operational. The official specs offer MTBF numbers for "missile" applications!

    Rolm designed this machine in the late 1970s and put the machine into production in the very early 1980s. The boards bear copyright dates of 1980, and the QA seals on this example bear a date of November 30, 1984.

    The machine itself is an "upward compatible" "clone" of the venerable Data General Nova. The basic instruction set is that of the Nova, and the I/O bus is electrically compatible with the Nova's. Rolm "extended" the instruction set and the address space by using various I/O- class instructions. The extensions include a hardware stack, and assorted additional logical (e.g. logical shifts), arithmetic (e.g. signed multiply), and immediate- mode instructions. The machine sports 64kW of core memory.

    Physically, the machine is about 10" (w) x 8" (h) x 23" (d) and weighs over 50 pounds. Frame construction is of machined anodised aluminium held together with fully- captive bolts. The machine is cooled by conduction and so has no ventilation fans; all heat is dissipated through the frame. Boards are clamped in place using wedges to ensure good thermal contact with the frame.

    Implementation is done around four AM2901 bit-slice chips and is microcoded. Interestingly, almost all the chips are of Taiwanese manufacture, not U.S. manufacture. The core stacks were manufactured in Hong Kong and Taiwan. All the logic is mil-spec 54xx series TTL and is rated for temperatures ranging from as low as -50 to as high as 95 degrees Celsius.

    This particular example lacks any special I/O boards and is missing its console. I am in search of either a console, or schematics for one such that I might fabricate one. I am also searching for documentation on the physical layout of the connectors, both internal and external, as well as a set of schematics.

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Last Modified: Sun May 19 16:23:27 EDT 2002