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3B2 Computers

In the early to mid 1980s, AT&T produced the "3B" family of computer systems, including the 3B2, 3B5, 3B15 and 3B4000. I was fortunate enough to use these very early on — I used what I believe to be the first 3B2 and 3B5 systems in Southern California back in 1984.

For many years I did nothing but 3B2 support, and was sufficiently immersed in this culture to get 3B2 UNIX on my license plates. My customer list included AT&T itself — I briefly taught advanced UNIX/C at Bell Labs in Holmdel, NJ.

Though the product line was largely discontinued in 1990 or so, these extremely reliable machines remain in production to this day: I still get 3B2 phone calls or emails around once a month (this is true even as of 2011!).

I have never been an employee of AT&T, though they have been a customer in a number of capacities.


Note: the "3B2" systems here have nothing to do with "3B2" software from Advent Publishing Systems located in the United Kingdom. Sorry.

What I can do

My more than 25 years of 3B2 experience make me one of the better sources of information on the internet for this family of computers. I'm always happy to do what I can to help via phone or email, and for simple problems I do it free of charge.

More extensive involvement will usually involve a consulting arrangement, but I'm happy to talk a while before starting the clock.

NOTE — I gave up all my 3B2 gear in late 2008, so I'm no longer able to offer any help requiring hands on the equipment.

* Technical Information
I maintain a growing family of 3B2 Tech Tips on this web site, many in response to specific requests received from the internet. Whenever I solve a new problem, I try to document it for the rest of the world.
* System Crash Recovery
I've managed to assist numerous customers getting a "dead" 3B2 system back up on its feet. Sometimes we're able to achieve a full recovery, but usually can get the system running sufficiently well to get one last backup to extract the key system data. I perform this recovery over the phone and sometimes via modem. For downed systems with critical data, the entire system can be shipped to me where I can make a more direct go at it. I'm available for emergency onsite visits in Southern California.
* Tape/Floppy Translation
My equipment can read nearly any kind of tape or floppy produced on a 3B2 (sorry, no 9-track from the 3B5/3B15). This includes the old 23-megabyte ctape, 60 MB, 120MB and 525MB qtape, and the standard 3B2 floppy disks. I can extract the data and simply translate it to a different media, or make it available to you over the internet via my FTP server. Though many other UNIX systems will read the 60MB and larger tapes, the 3B2 is probably the only system that will read the 23MB tapes.
* Temporary Application Hosting
After a customer's system crashed badly, they shipped me the external drives. I mounted them on my system, copied them to my much larger and faster internal drives, and loaded their application. The customer was given access to the system over the internet where they were able to extract their data.
* Software Development and Porting
I've got all the AT&T C compilers available and can compile and debug C language software. My toolkit includes C Issue 5, which is an unreleased ANSI C compiler for the 3B2. I have many years of experience of 3B2-specific software development and debugging.
* Hardware/Software Procurement
I have a garage full of 3B2 parts and can provide them for downed systems. I also have sources for other 3B2 equipment and can probably help you find whatever you need to get going. I also have a very large collection of 3B2 software available.
NOTE: As of Dec 2008, I have disposed of essentially all of my 3B2 software and hardware.

Some 3B2 links

Looking for...

Now and then I get requests for 3B2-related items, and I'm happy to list them here. Kindly contact me if you wish to be listed.