The Cadmus Archive
Main Page

Most of you probably don't know what a 'Cadmus' is. Chances are good that you even don't want to know what they are, since most of the people who worked with these machines don't want to remember them. Anyway, their rarity, their obscurity, and the lack of documentation make them an ideal target for freaks and retrocomputists seeking the ultimate adventure. On these pages, I tried to collect all the information about these machines I have.

Some General Things

Cadmus is the name for a line of workstations manufactured by the german company PCS in the mid of the 80's. In fact, PCS was the first company in Germany that built an own line of UNIX-based workstations. Since federal institutions like research centers are forced in Germany to buy as much as possible from german vendors, a lot of these systems were sold to universities and research centers, so you have quite a good chance finding such a machine somewhere in a university cellar. However, at least for GMD, I know that they one day gave away all their Cadmus machines to Nicaragua, so they definitely don't have anything anymore.

Over the years, PCS built a couple of different machine lines, based on 680x0, Mips, and i860 processors (these are at least the ones I know!). Furtheron, I will only deal with the 9200/9600/9900 series which are 680x0-based and represent the oldest series of machines, with the earliest dating back to the first half of the eighties. PCS later sold the line to Digital-Kienzle, so you have a good chance of finding DEC logos on cards in your Cadmus...


As I already said, the early machines were 680x0-based, with the main CPU being either an 68010 or an 68020. The case of the machine defined its main designation, and you may take a look at some case types by clicking here. The bus used for add-on cards is the QBus, known from some of Digital Equipment's VAX machines. I haven't tested so far if a Cadmus accepts QBus boards originally designed for a MicroVAX, and it would anyway be difficult to use it since the OS shipped by PCS only supported cards offered by PCS. Since the QBus is somewhat limited it its addressing capabilities and data transfer rate, memory boards used special 'shortcut' buses for faster access. One can split the supported cards roughly into the following groups:


The Cadmus machines ran MUNIX, which is a shortform for the 'UNIX from Munich' (PCS is located in Munich). It is a System V Release 3 derivative and as such, a quite bare system. Learn to live without ^Z and to put your jobs into the background right at the beginning...

MUNIX was available in two versions: MUNIX(/16) for the 68010-based machines and MUNIX/32 for the later 68020-based models. The binary format was upward compatible, i.e. MUNIX/16 binaries ran also on MUNIX/32, but not the other way around.

As the name 'Cadmus' already may tell, the machines were designed for graphics-oriented applications like DTP and CAD. PCS offered a lot of software to exploit the Cadmus' graphical capabilities, including something like a simple office suite. However, X11 was still in its infant state when the first Cadmus models came out, so most of these apps probably weren't X11-based and instead used the GDI/GKS libraries offered by PCS. There was also a 'Windowed Shell' allowing you to open multiple console windows on MUNIX/16 (I doubt this made much fun on a 2 MByte 68010 machine...). X was a later addon, and the latest X release offered by PCS I know of was X11R2.

© 1998 Alfred Arnold,