Data General MV/8000
Introduced in 1980
32-bit word size, semiconductor memory, capacity of 256 kilobytes to 2 megabytes
220 nanosecond instruction cycle, 450 KIPS
Code-named "Eagle," this computer was an extension of the established Eclipse line from a 16-bit to a 32-bit word length. It was a response to DEC's VAX by Edson DeCastro, the man who left DEC to build computers his own way. As described in Tracy Kidder's book, The Soul of a New Machine
, DeCastro had commissioned an elite group of engineers for the Fountainhead Project, which was to produce the VAX-killer. But it was a small group led by dynamo Tom West that successfully produced Eagle, taking big chances on new technology to produce a David-versus-Goliath win over the company's own status quo.
One especially unique feature of the Eagle is that 16-bit software may be run on it without modification. By comparison, its competitor, the VAX-11/780, could run 16-bit software only if a "compatibility bit" was set in its internal registers.