Every once in a while, as I work with vintage computers, I get the chance to meet some of the people who were “there” at the time when the computing revolution started or was in the early days.
Earlier today, I met with Al for some late ‘70s computing stuff. What I also learned is that he was a director for the workstation division of Canon back in the ‘90s. The Canon object.station 41 (link to PDF) was one of the products that came out from the workstation division.
According to OLD-COMPUTERS.COM, after NeXT abandoned the hardware business, Canon bought the license and started producing the successor to the NeXTstations. I recall Canon was the manufacturer of the magneto-optical drives used in the NeXT cubes, and had a huge financial investment in NeXT.
Al said Canon even tried to get NeXT to allow them to use the same “NeXTstation” brand for their product, but NeXT declined (I’m assuming that this was after NeXT stopped making the NeXTstation slabs). Hence, the “object.station”. It actually had a similar style to the black m68k slabs, with a height difference and the presence of an internal CD-ROM drive. Some literature on the net indicated that Canon may have subsequently made the object.stations in black.
The pictures have Al showing me the object.station 41 with Serial #1 (there was a numeric prefix that my woeful phone camera was not able to get a sharper focus on). That slab of machine is packed with circuitry on the inside. He pointed out the capabilities of the object.station, specifically the display architecture that took advantage of C&T’s Wingine technology.
We didn’t have enough time to power up the machine (along with that matching huge display monitor). However, Al was kind enough to give me some marketing literature for the object.station 41. Being retired, he may eventually find time to tinker with his object.station. Real worthy as a computer museum piece.
This is probably the first glimpse I’ve seen in 15 years..
Canon didn’t stick it out in the alterni-unix PC space for long. These machines were bought in bulk and repurposed by Sheppard Surveillance as the ‘Skout’ series.
i know it’s a stretch to be asking this three years after your post, but I don’t suppose your friend Al might still have some technical docs about the motherboard? My Object.station 41 recently started reporting a mysterious “Hard drive controller error” and refusing to boot. I’d really love to get this machine working again… but tracking down replacement parts is nigh on impossible. Finding a copy of any kind of technical manual would be a start! I’m also curious about the Pentium Overdrive upgrade possibility, but information about this rare machine is extremely difficult to come by. Any help or pointers would be greatly appreciated!
Al has bestowed upon me (just last December) the ObjectStation 41 that I posted about. He included some marketing materials and user’s guide, but the docs were for the ObjectStation 50/52 tower desktop, and not for the 41 slab. I think the docs might be applicable to all models though. Al has sent scans of the docs to the nextcomputers.org forum admins for inclusion in their archives.
Just a few days back, I was able to get the ObjectStation 41 running NEXTSTEP 3.3. The NEXTSTEP 3.3 drivers disk already has the drivers for at least the display component. I have tested neither network nor sound, because the VL riser card has what seemed to be a burnt filter component.
Whoa! An ObjectStation 50/52!? That’s the first I’ve heard of that model…
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I got two questions:
– can you tell me the model of the CD-ROM drive inside?
– would it be possible to send me a copy of the NextStep 3.3 CD?
I recently bought a 41, but without drives.
From what I remember looking into the unit, the CD-ROM drive was unbranded, but connected as a standard SCSI device.
The NEXTSTEP CD image is generally available out in the web. One such place is the Macintosh Garden https://macintoshgarden.org/apps/nextstep-33