Sun3's use either
SunOS 4.1.1 or
as operating system.
The work a computer can do on a non-networked Computer like
Some other network types worth mentioning are ATM, FDDI and Token Ring.
To connect computers in different places and towns, the
telephone wires are used. A Modem or ISDN is needed then.
The ability to run more than one program concurrently (and
multiprocessing means without disturbing any of the other
Unix allows this since years while
PCs only have some multitasking abilities.
But this isn't a problem for PCs, since these are only
used by the one person in front of them.
But a network server is a very different case.
Unix manages such things with ease and even with a moderate
network load one can work in front of a Unix machine
(this is what i do now) without notice.
After the Sun3-Series (which used the Motorola 680x0 processors),
Sun equipped their machines with the home-brewn SPARC processor.
The way went from the V7-Sparc over Supersparc, Microsparc and Hypersparc
to todays Ultrasparc.
The oldest and still very widespread
Other than the proprietary operating systems, Unix was developed
by universities and commercial firms in parallel. It's portability
made it very attractive to mini- and microcomputer vendors.
And its concepts of abstraction made it expandable and secure
so it is still (or better: especially) useful for modern computers.
The operating system for the Sun3 computers was SunOS 4.
There was support for Sun3's in SunOS 3.5, but most Sun3's were
delivered and nearly all are using SunOS 4 now.
The latest version for the Sun3 was 4.1.1.
It's kind of luck for all Sun3 users, that Sun dropped SunOS 4
with version 4.1.3 in favour of SunOS 5 (aka. Solaris 2).
Solaris was dreadly slow and nearly unusable in the first two or
three versions (IMHO 2.3 was the first really usable version).
And when it became usable it had become that big and ugly, that
many users of older
SPARC computers decided to stay with 4.1.3.
This makes clear, why many free programs compile easily on
4.1.3 (and thus without many problems on 4.1.1 too).
SunOS 4 is a decendant of 4.3BSD. Sun spread many new ideas
to the Unix world in these days, mostly network
services like NFS, RPC and NIS.
SunOS 4.1.X is still more modern than (for example) SCO-Unix
or HP/UX despite the fact, that the development has been
disconnected since years.
This is a Computer which provides
for a couple of other computers. Usually this is a big and fast
machine, especially if a lot of others are more or less dependent
on it. On the other side even a slow and old computer can be a
server, if the load on it is moderate and no other computers
are depend critically on it.
A server surely needs a network operating system and good multitasking abilities like Unix provides.
The Sun 3/160, 3/260 and 3/470 are typical servers.
A workstation is a machine for a single person. Other than a
PC with network access a workstation doesn't have local
data storage, sometimes not even a hard disk.
On the other hand, a workstation is usually equipped with a valuable high resolution screen. Sun sold all workstations with 19" black&white or color monitors, keyboard and optical mouse.
The Sun 3/50, 3/60, 3/75, 3/110 and 3/80 are typical workstations.