The HoneyPi Project Banner - More than a tribute to the Honeywell 200 computer

The Honeywell 200 was a mainframe computer in use in the 1960s. Apparently none survive today, so the objective of this project is to create a replica as far as possible using original Honeywell components. It is conventional for a computer to have both a name and a number and the replica won't be entirely Honeywell so its name is only "Honey" and as for Pi, well just like that number the project may be irrational and never end.

My name is Rob and I live in Kent, the garden of England.
Welcome to this my domain, not January 2013 when I am writing these words but the swinging 60s when fashion was a paramount culture in Britain. At that time I started my career in information technology by programming a small Honeywell 200 installation for a life assurance company. Despite all the amazing developments in computer technology since that time nothing has truly impressed me so much as the character of that machine. Maybe that was because it literally had character-oriented architecture, but there was something else to it, an undefinable style that made it seem right. That was all a long time ago and I want to discover whether my recollections are just nostalgia like many people's memories of the 60s or whether they have some substance. To do that I could just write a software emulator and consign the Honeywell 200 to virtual reality alongside many other vintage machines. Certainly the 3D CAD model of the control panel illustrated above could easily be animated and the images of those chunky buttons cry out for a touch screen, although the flashing graphics would get a little frantic in real time. Personally I don't consider that alone to be an adequate tribute, so the other possibility is to build the real thing and so far I think that is a real possibility.

The purpose of this website is primarily to document the construction project, although in the course of that it may accumulate historical information about the original Honeywell 200 not presented elsewhere. Certainly I have seen misleading information which needs to be corrected, but given the paucity of information available what I have found has been welcome. So far I haven't found anyone with any detailed personal knowledge of the original machine either, but I have given this website the suffix ".org" in the hope that others may eventually pool their expertise with mine, such as it is. Here I should mention that I have never had any connection with either the Honeywell company or its past partner Bull apart from using several of their products, but there must be others around who have and I would welcome their superior knowledge. Also my career was in financial software development and electronics has only been a lifelong hobby, so this will be an entertaining enterprise and probably a warning to others not to try to build a 1960s mainframe computer at home.

Apart from having no previous experience of building a mainframe computer I also have none of building a website and little time to learn, so this one is a work in progress when I can spare the time and I am making the odd pages that I have put together available now rather than waiting until I have something more complete, so don't be surprised that things that you might expect to see are missing. Some items that I can provide immediately are an idea of what we plan to build, some links to other information elsewhere and a way of contacting me, so here they are. There's also a demonstration programme which I wrote a couple of years ago to convince myself that if I did build the computer I would still know how to programme it.

What we'll try to build

The Pi Factory demonstration programme

Links and contact