Not many changes were made initially to the series 3000 series II. It came with the standard 128 KB memory system and an expandable 512 KB, as well as 50 MB on the External drive, which was as big as a refrigerator. The 7970 external tape drive was used by small businesses to store 50MB of data and would cost about $12,000 back in 1978.
The terminal was a version 2640 which was later used by many models of the HP 300 as the 264X. It supported upto 32 terminals and ran an MPE version II. This was the new generation of computers and would forever change the computing world. The hard drive, in particular, had more memory than any computer on the market and allowed users to save significant amounts of data.
Each platter in the 7920 external drive held 50MB of data and you could swap it out with multiple partitions. It allowed for up to seven drives which allowed for 512 MB or half a GB. In 1978 this was unheard of. Data transfer speed was almost 1MB per second and was essentially used for storing database records and employee records.
The style of the terminal (264X Model) looked like a toaster oven and was rectangular in style. It allowed for 25 lines of text to be displayed on the screen and a total of 80 characters. The aspect ratio was low with a 4:3 and only used black and white color. The CRT monitor was one of the most successful in the history of HP and was later adapted to include color.
Plans to improve the monitor were at the top of the list for HP. Rendering characters to appear faster and increasing a number of pixels were proving to be tough. By increasing the character cell size they found that the could double the resolution horizontally making the matrix 15×9 which allowed for nearly double the amount of text to be displayed on the screen. This resulted in a very easy to read display screen, with no scan lines.
The built-in keyword had flat keys and as many people know most keywords now have indented tops which allow you to type better. The keyboard featured 3 areas:
- Cursor positioning and (F1 – F10)
A big thick cable connected the keyboard to the computer similar to a printer cable. Although it was gigantic and to many people today would be unusable after using the keyboard you’re used to. Back then it was loved by everyone that tried it. It has keys for everything you needed to do. It was the first keyboard to come out with F1 – F10 functions that allowed users to create templates and adjust screen resolution and audio.
In later years the TI graphing calculators would adopt the design of this keyboard and even today many of the calculators resemble this model.