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Pixar Image Computer

Published 16 September 2018


The Pixar Image Computer is an interesting but very rare task specific workstation that was marketed to the Entertainment, Military, and Medical industries. This page provides interesting links articles related to the Pixar Image Computer.

Pixar Image Computer mast head

Creative Commons image provided by Wikimedia


The Pixar Image Computer is a graphics workstation released in the late 1980s. This graphics workstation was the bleeding edge of computer graphics processing at that time. It is reported that as little as 120 Pixar computers may have been sold, with fewer 300 ever to have been delivered. Although there is no direct comparison between this computer and anything else on the market, the Pixar Image Computer would site comfortably between a Sharp X68000 multimedia workstation and the all-conquering Cray Supercomputer. The choice of workstations in the early 1990s was incredible.


The Pixar Image Computer consists of a 21 inch-high, rack-mounted box with 12 board slots. The minimum system contains six boards: one CHAP, one Video, one Memory Controller, and three 8Mb memory boards. It is expandable to three CHAP, two Video and six memory boards. The host can be up to 30 feet from the Pixar Image Computer. The Pixar runs on 200-250 volts AC and will dissipate, worst case, almost 3KW.

The Pixar Image Computer comes with an extensive software package for developing applications. Pixar software is developed in-house under UNIX 4.2 in both C and assembly language. Pixar provides a development system and several sets of libraries as described in the Pixar Software Overview.

Unix Workstation Control

A host Unix Workstation was needed to operate the Pixar Image Computer as there was no direct user interface. You know, the usual things that one may expected when using a computer like a keyboard and mouse. We are lout to point out that it was Steve Jobs who first successfully marketed the simplicity of a mouse with the Apple Lisa and later the fabulously successful Apple Macintosh range.

This got us thinking. What would be our Unix Workstation of choice to run the awesome Pixar Image Computer. The votes went around our virtual office and hands down the winner by a country mile was the Amix Amiga Unix workstation. If we got our hands on an Amix Workstation linked to the Pixar Image Computer then we would engage in retro Bitcoin mining. Yes, you read that right. We would use all of that number crunching power to mine Bitcoins.

Related articles

Wikipedia Article on Pixar Image Computer

Pixar Image Computer

Pixar User's Manual

Pixar User's Manual
(read online)

Pixar Programmer's Manual

Pixar Programmer's Manual
(read online)

Commodore Amiga Unix system, Amix

Running Linux/Unix
Workstations on Amiga

PIXAR Christmas Videos

PIXAR really was operating as a start up for over a decade trying to push its wares. Probably as a team building exercise the team would produce in-house videos for the end of year function. Here is a small selection.

1986 Christmas Video

1989 Christmas Video

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