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Keyboard Builders' Digest / Keyboard Spotting

Aesthedes 2

The only known working Aesthedes in the world. A CAD/CAM system from 1985, whizzi worked for nearly a year to get it to this state.
Published November 21, 2021

Well, not mechanical, but impressive anyway.

The original Aesthedes, a specialized CAD/CAM system of which about 200 were made, was developed in 1982 by D.P.G. Claessens (1922 - 2017), an industrial designer.

The vision of Mr. Claessens was that a designer could get to work immediately, without knowledge of computers. Everything also had to be within reach and no overlapping of windows, for example. For that reason, the Aesthedes has 6 screens. 3 Data screens (below) showing project data, RGB values ​​of the layer and the last 10 commands executed (source).

The specs sound pretty impressive for 1982-1985:

The first version had 6 Motorola 68000 CPU's, 4x Thomson EF9365 graphic display processors, 1.9MB memory and 2.4MB video memory. OS is based on OS-9. Its canvas size is 64000x64000, 3 color displays 512x512 resolution and capable of showing 16.7 million colors. Aesthedes was the first to introduce layers with an immediate 64 available layers. [...] The second version as we have uses 2x Motorola 68020 CPU's and 2x 68882 coprocessors. The software moved from ROM to 2 500MB(ish) SCSI hard disks. Version 3 was being developed but ended up as a software solution running on Silicon Graphics machines – whizzi.

More info on this beauty at Home Computer Museum, Helmond, Holland:

And a quick insight into the difficulties of the restoration work:

There are no surviving schematics or even videos of how the machine boots or even how all the cables in the back should be connected. The only schematic we had were of the 3 powersupplies. The rest is figured out by reverse engineering. Even from the Barco screens there are no schematics.. but they all work again! – whizzi.

If you liked the Aesthedes, you may check the Dorner PDS 320 for a similarly spacious keyboard layout.

Published on Sun 21st Nov 2021. Featured in KBD #53 (source).

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