1969 was a cornerstone for the evolution of minicomputers. On this date Data General Corporation released the Nova, the fastest minicomputer. But how was the computer created and reached its popularity?
It all began a year earlier when Edson de Castro decided to leave Digital Equipment Corp., and create a new company, Data General. The computer took inspiration from previous computers, but also introduced significant improvements and innovations. The Nova was based on the common 15 by 15 inches circuit boards. One board was designed for the CPU while the other for various support systems. The boards were connected by using a printed circuit backplane with minimal manual wiring. The larger construction also made the Nova more reliable, which made it especially attractive for industry or lab settings. The computer was thus used by many scientists and in numerous science laboratories from around the world.
The Nova was packaged into a single rack mount case and had enough power to do most simple computing tasks. Furthermore, with its 32 kilobytes of memory and its rapid cycle time (300 nanoseconds), the computer became the fastest minicomputer on the market. Following its success, the company would soon introduce further innovations to the machine and also other powerful machines such as the Eclipse and the MV.
Nova remains however in the history of computing as the fastest minicomputer for its decade. The design and also simple architecture of the computer inspired the design of the Xerox Alto computer as well as becoming the inspiration for Steve Wozniak’s Apple I.