Meet MINC, Personal Laboratory Computer Systems



What is MINC?

These days, computers are virtually indispensible to anyone in the sciences or engineering. Chances are, not a day passes but that you use one in some way... for computation, to collect data, to control instrumentation, to generate reports.

Chances are, too, the computer you use is being used by a lot of other people for a lot of other things. You may have to wait a day or two, or even a week for service or your results. And you probably pay a heavy premium for the time, especially if you're relying on a remote mainframe. In fact, you may spend more of your valuable time waiting than working, and more of your budget on services than research.

MINC can change all that.

It can because MINC is a family of three individuallized computers designed specifically for the laboratory. They're the culmination of Digital's more tham 20 years of pioneering and perfecting small but powerful interactive computers exclusively for laboratory work. And here are the reasons why you should be looking at MINC to solve your laboratory computing needs.

To be efficient, you need control over your data processing resources. MINC gives you complete control. Each is a totally self-contained system you can keep at your elbow in office or lab. You plug it in, it's ready to perfom. No waiting for the mainframe.

To be economical, you need control over how much your data processing costs. MINC is a one-time expense, so you can compute, control instrumentation, generate reports or whatever - as much as you want - without worrying about time charges or mainframe overhead.

To be effective, you need a computer resource that will let you do what needs doing, when it needs doing. and the way you want to do it. Without any hassle. That's whiy we made versatility a major disgn consideration. MINC lets you: compute, program, generate and display graphics, control instruments and processes, collect data, create reports, and even communicate with other Digital computers.

Being easy to use was another major consideration. If you can type - even with one finger - you can start using MINC productively the day it is delivered. That's because MINC systems have build-in prompts that guide you along, and because MINC commands are easy to master and use.

And to be prepared, you need a laporatory computer that can be modified or expanded as your needs change or grow. MINC can be. Select the MINC that answers your present needs. As they change, expand or upgrade to meet tomorrow's demands. Depending on the model, you can add more main memory, extra mass storage, input/output modules, a printer, an advanced graphics terminal, computer-to-computer communications, other languages and operating systems... and more.

Why a choice?

The current MINC family includes three members: MINC-11, MINC-23, MINC/DECLAB23..

But why three? Very simply, to give you choices. Choices that let you select the computing capability you need without compromising your budget. Moreover, whichever your selection today, you won't compromise the future either. That's because you can modify or expand MINC anytime, or you can upgrade to a more powerful processor. And when you do make changes, one of them won't be your applications programming. What works on your MINC now will work on it after the changes - unchanged.


What does the MINC family have in common?

Obviously, since the three are family, they have a lot in common. By design. Here are some of the more important common features:

- Ease of use. MINC was conceived with the laboratory in mind. MINC offers tools that are powerful, yet easy to master and apply. Tools that work with you as wel as for you.

- Graphics. When a picture is worth a thousand words, MINC terminals provide them. Curves, histograms, bar graphs, along with alphanumeric labeing.

- Communications. Many organisations have larger Digital system installations. With a MINC communications option, many of the resources of those insyallations can be available to you... such as existing programs, more powerful computing capability, more mass storage, access to other data bases, and utilization of a variety of output devices.

- Installation. Mainframes can take weeks and a corps of experts to install. With MINC-11 and MINC-23, you just plug in your system and you're in business. Elapsed time, including unpacking and assembly - two hours at most. Because MINC/DECLAB23 is a more sophisticated system, it requires installation by Digital.

- Low cost. Budgets are seldom what they should be. That's why we offer you a choice... to make the best match between budget and need. MINC-11 is our answer to to tight budgets. It offers a lot of capability for a low price. MINC-23 offers more for a little more, with MINC/DECLAB23 all the hight end of the performance scale. But whichever your choice, you'll profit.

- Versatility. Since no two laboratories have exactly the same requirements, MINC is designed to handle them all... from graphics and data processing to controlling instruments and processes. Moreover, MINC includes an IEEE 488-1975 standard instrument bus, four RS232C ports, and a chassis for up to eight MINC input/output modules.

- Mobility. Sometimes it is handy to to move your computer where the work is. MINC-11 and MINC-23 come equipped with a four-wheel cartsso they can be placed wherever needed. Just disconnect, wheel and reconnect. It's that simple. MINC/DECLAB23 is larger system so it's not mobile. Hovever, its compactness will ley you place it anywhere in the lab or office, at hand but not obtrusive.

- Expandability. Since needs change, we designed the MINC to be upgradable. A MINC-11 can be upgraded to a MINC-23, and a MINC-23 to a MINC/DECLAB23. You can add more mass storage, more main memory, add or switch input/output modules, and add an optional line printer, and exercise one of the communication options to share files and programs or take advantage of the power and storage capacity of a larger remote Digital system.

- Modularity. Optional MINC input/output modules are metal encased for protection and slips easily into and out of the chassis. In combinations of your choice, they support a wide range of real-time data aquisition, processing and control functions.

- MINC Basic. For convenience we've packed MINC operating system software with a programming language. That's MINC Basic. It's powerful as well as easy to learn and use.

- Software Packages. Standard with MINC is a set os statistical, mathemathical and analysis packages that can take much of the drudgery out of routine laboratory calculations.

- Printers. For hardcopy copies you have a choice of two optional printers: the LA-34-VA, a desktop, receiveopnly device that prints both text and graphics from the VT125 terminal; and the 180 cps, pedestal-mounted LA120 line printer which offers features such as tab and margin selection, eight type fonts and six line-spacings.


How do the MINCs differ?

This is an important question because along with price, the differences will help you make your selection. For the sake of easy comparison, we've tabulates key differences (actually features) below and, below that, have provided brief descriptions of each.

Processor PDP-11/03 PDP-11/23 DPD-11/23
Main Memory 64Kb MOS standard 128Kb MOS standard 128Kb MOS standard
Mass Storage RX02 floppy drive RX02 floppy drive RL02 disk cartridge drive
VT105 VT125 VT125
Upgrade Options VT125 kit, PDP-11/23 processor*, RL02 kit RL02 kit, FPF11 floating pointaccellerator, 128Kb memory FPF11 floating pointaccellerator, 128Kb memory
Packaged Operating Systems Options FEP/RT-11 FEP/RT-11 FEP/RT-11, FEP/RSX-11M
Communications Options DECnet-RT DECnet-RT DECnet-RT, DECnet-RSX

*Upgrading to the PDP-11/23 processor provides 128Kb of MOS in place of the 64Kb MOS memory standard with the PDP-11/03 processor.

The differences in detail


The PDP-11/03 processor has a word length of 16 bits, its memory address range is 64Kb, and it offers both an extended instruction set and floating point instructions. Its basic instruction set includes more than 400 standard PDP-11 instructions.

The PDP-11/23 processor is on a single module which also contains a Floating Point Processor and Memory Management Unit. The processor's word length is 16 bits and its memory address range is 256Kb. It offers the basic PDP-11 instruction set of more than 400 standard PDP-11 instructions, plus an extended instruction set and floating point instructions. Its computation speed is approximately twice that of the PDP-11/03.

Main Memory:

While all three MINCs utilize fast, dynamic MOS memory, only the MINC-23 and MINC/DECLAB23 memories can be expanded to 256Kb.

Mass Storage:

The RX02 is a dual floppy diskette drive with a random-access storage capacity of 512Kb per diskette. The diskettes are easy to use, handle, duplicate, store and transport (even through inter-office mail).

The dual RL02s are removable cartridge disk drives with a random-access storage capacity of 10.4Mb per drive. Build-in reliablility and maintenance features are designed to keep the cost of ownership low.



MINC-11 comes with our VT105 grahing terminal. Featuring a detached keyboard for greater positioning convenience, the terminal offers a wide variety of video attributes, including: double-width, double-size characters, 80- and 132-column lines, smotth forward and reverse scrolling, blinking, split-screen display, bold, underlining, reverse video, dual density, and white characters on a black screen or vice versa.

For graphing, the VT105 provides a resolution of 512 positions horizontally and 190 vertically. Two graphs can be presented simultaneously - either separatly or superimposed, and each can be independently plotted in point-plot, shaded point-plot, or bar graph mode.

An RS-170 composite video output allows alhpa-numerical and graphics material to be displayed on remote monitors, recorded on video tape, or produces as hard copy.

Both MINC-23 and MINC/DECLAB23 come with the advanced VT125 graphic terminal. This terminal offers the same attributes and capabilities as the VT105, but provides a resolution of 768 positions horizontally and 240 verically, and will run all VT105 graphics software. In addition, bit-map graphics provide four gray scales for graphics highlighting and allow data plotting and both print and line graphics.

Color: When driven by a subset of Digital's ReGIS Graphics Library software, the VT125 can transmit four colors simultaneously to a RGB color monitor.

Upgrade Options

As indicated earlier, upgrade options are available for each of the MINCs. In fact, MINC-11 can be upgraded to either a MINC-23 or a MINC/DECLAB23 and b=obviuosly, MINC-23 can be upgraded to a MINC/DECLAB23. Even the performance of the MINC/DECLAB23 can be upgraded through the addition of our FPF11 floating point accelerator, increasing its floating point computation speed 400 to 500 percent over that provided by the standard floating point unit.

For MINC-11

Three upgrade kits are available for MINC-11. One will convert the VT105 graphics terminal into a VT125 graphics terminal for greater grapics capability. A second allows replacement of the standard RX02 floppy disk drives with out RL02 cartridge disk drives to provide more storage capacity with increased data transfer speed. And the third enables substitution of the PDP-11/03 processor with the more powerfull PCP-11/23 microprocessor.


For MINC-23

Three upgrade options are available for MINC-23. One allows replacement of the standard RX02 floppy disk drives with the RL02 cartridge disk drives, providing increased storage capacity and data transfer speed. The second is the addition of the FPF11 floating point accelerator for faster floating point computation speed. And the third allows expansion of main memory from the standard 128Kb to 256Kb maximum.


For a major increase in floating point calculation speed, the FPF11 floating point accelerator can be added to MINC/DECLAB23. Also, its main memory can be expanded from the standard 128Kb to 256Kb maximum.


Though MINC BASIC is the standard language provided with all three MINCs, FORTRAN IV is optionally available fo computation-intensive applications and runs under Digital's RT-11 real-time operating system. FORTRAN IV is based on the ANSI FORTRAN 1966 standard and supports one-word integers, single-precicion real, double-precision real, complex, logical and byte data types.

With MINC/DECLAB23, FORTRAN 77 is also an option. Used with Dilital's RSX-11M real-time operating system, it fully conforms to the ANSI FORTRAN - 77 subset standard. Digital's FORTRAN offers a number of special features such as a block-structured IF statements, internal files which replace ENCODE and DECODE statements, a zero-trip Do loop, and SAVE statement which saves the values of variables in a subroutine across several calls.


RT-11 Operating System:

RT-11 is a real-time operating system that functions in either single-job or foreground/background mode. The single job mode enables interactive system use, while the foreground/background mode allows a time-critically task such as data sampling to ru in the foreground and a time-independent tast such as program development to run in the background.

RSX-11M Operating System:

RSX-11M is the culmination of over a thousand man-years of development effort at Digital. It is an extermely powerful disk-based real-time operating system that features concurrent processing of two or more tasks.

The FORTRAN EnhancementPackage (FEP):

Intended for applications where computation speed is critical, FEP includes:


To date, there are well over 200,000 PDP-11 computer installations worldwide, and nearly 300,000 Digital computers altogether. Through MINC's optional DECnet communication software, you may be able ti utilize many of the resources of other Digital computer installations in your organization. The benefit to you is the potential availability of existing programs, more extensive computing capabilities and mass storage, and access to other data bases.

DECnet is a set of communication products which provides networking capabilities for all Digital'scomputers. In support of networking, DECnet functions fall in two categories: communicattions and user/program functions. Both DECnet-RT and DECnet-RSX support point-to-point communications. They also allow user-programs to exchange messages with other user programs, users to transfer sequeltially ASCII files bidirectionally between file devices, and users to read from or write to files in a remote system.

All three MINC models support DECnet-RT; only MINC/DECLAB23 will support DECnet-RSX.

The realworld is what laboratory work is all about. MINC puts you in touch with that world through the standard IEEE bus and RS232C interfaces and your choice of these nine optional input/output modules:

Analog-to-Digital Converter (A/D>

This module is a successive-approximation type A/D converter that accepts data on up to 16 single-ended channels. In conjunctio with MINC dualmultiplexer modules, the A/D converter can support up to 64 single-ended input channels.


This module provides differential amplification or attenuation of signals on four input channels. It can be connected to nearly ant transducer or sensing device and can be used under program control or through switch-controlled fixed-gain selection.

Dual Multiplexer

This module serves whenever more A/D input channels are required than can be connected to the A/D converter alone.

Programmable Clock

This module is a programmable counetr that can be driven by events occurring inside or outside a MINC system. The MINC software used clock in conjunction with other modules to control data transfer rates. The module provides two Schmitt triggers which can work interactively with or independently of the clock. The software requires connection to the clock only when a program invokes one or both Schmitt triggers.


Thermocouple Preamplifier

This module is always used with an A/D converter and provides programmable signal processing and amplification for up to eight thermocouple input signals. Up to seven modules can be installed with a single A/D converter, giving a total of 56 thermocouple channels.

Digital-to-Analog Converter (D/A)

Housing four separate D/A converters, this module can be used to control XY plotters, CRTs, and devices such as voltage-controlled oscillators. MINC supports up to fout D/A converter modules.

Digital Import Unit

This unit accommodates up to 16 input lines. It reads digital data from external instruments, producing standard digital logic levels, analog voltages, or contact closures, and it can collect data on command.

Digital Output Unit

The digital output unit enables program-controlled output of digital signals on 16 different lines. This permits a number a number of different functions such as programmable control of ON/OFF status of electrical devices, signal attunator control, and the outputting of signals at a rate determined by an external devices.

Foundation Module

This module allows you to assemble an interface to special-purpose devices not served by existing MINC modules. Assembly hardware is included.

How do you become acquainted with your MINC?

No Problem. Each MINC comes with plenty of selfpaced training material; in fact, a complete set of award-winning documentation that covers all aspect of system operation and use. Here is the list of titles for all eight books:


What about service?

A very good question. No one designs more reliability into its systems than Digital. Still, with use, every system needs periodic preventive maintenance to continue performing up to specification. Without it, problems could arise that might result in lost time and, even worse, the loss of valuable data. An ounce of preventive maintenance is worth a pound of cure.

Also, in rare instances a system will go down because of a hardware or software problem. While is's down, work may stop and you wait. We understand, so to assist our customers in keeping their systems up and running, we maintain professionally staffed Telephone Service Centers for Canada, Europe and the United States to provide immediate assistance. This support is backed by Digital's worldwide Customer Services organi=zation of more than 14.000 professionals. This organization offers a variety of hardware and software servic agreements that range from per-call support to on-site resident consulting.


DECUS is an acronym for the Digital Equipment Computer Users Society. Established in 1961, DECUS today is among the largest of such groups and one of the most active. Its primary purpose is to advance the effective utilization of Digital's products, but it also serves as a way of channeling new information to its membership, and of facilitating the exchange of computer programs among its members. DECUS maintains a library containing several thousand programs available to its members, periodically publishes a catalog of program holdings, and sponsors both domestic and international symposia. Membership is voluntary.



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