There’s some good reading around this subject: a small group within Tektronix took Xerox’ experience in Smalltalk and made a series of 68000 based machines with bitmapped graphics and GUIs. Eventually they put Smalltalk into their scopes, and the group went on to spread the word about advanced software techniques.
and then the Pegasus, which became the 4404, with a 68010 inside.
(both images from the blog and also appearing in the slide deck below)
There are some good resource links at the end of the blog, which lead us to Allen Wirfs-Brock’s Tektronix Smalltalk Document Archive
with videos and slide decks, including Smalltalk at Tektronix (pdf)
where you’ll learn about a series of developments, including writing a VM and addressing the severe performance shortfall. And the evangelists’ exit of the team, including Ward Cunningham, Rebecca Wirfs-Brock, and Kent Beck. (And other people I should perhaps have heard of, but haven’t.)
Boy, did I want one of these back in the day. I just didn’t have the $10-15,000 burning a hole in my pocket.
As I understand it, Tektronix was the only company that really made a go out of Smalltalk commercially during that era. My first experience with Smalltalk (outside of the Byte issue) was seeing it run on a Mac Plus at an Apple College event. This was the raw ST image from Xerox with the VM tweaked to work on the Mac. It was a very powerful experience, but the 1MB MacPlus was pretty tapped out. It mostly made a good demo. And by then, the existence of the Lisa and the Mac, the base interface was already really dated.
If you want to see what ST was like back then, dig up an old Squeak image that starts up in the MVC environment. Squeak was based on the Apple image that they got from Xerox. The ST I saw on that Mac Plus was a (if not THE) close ancestor of the image the Squeak team used.
Even still, as I understand it, the Tektronix machines were pretty slow. It would be interesting to see one today.
Thanks for bringing this machine back to life and for documenting your efforts.
I was working on a similar machine when this came out and wondered if it made sense for me to continue, but then decided it would be possible to do it at a lower cost (Tektronix was not known for mass market products).