These days, conversations about Java tend to center around Oracle and Google fighting it out in court. But back in 1996, Sun was the keeper of Java and promoted it heavily. They even released a diskless workstation that only runs Java applets. The Sun JavaStation was affectionately called the “Mr. Coffee” and [Cameron Gray] wants to show you how it worked and what’s inside of it.
A single screw frees the innards from the small case. Inside looks like a dense PC from the era, although the parts inside are a far cry from a typical PC. The CPU was a 110 MHz microSPARC II soldered directly to the motherboard. The four RAM slots could take up to 64 megabytes of PC RAM.
Unlike Sun’s full-blown workstations, the JavaStation took standard PC peripherals. For example, the monitor connection is a standard VGA and there are normal PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports. The driver for this box was price, so having cheap commodity I/O was a selling point.
[Cameron’s] JavaStation had lost its configuration, so he had to use a serial terminal to reset some key parameters. After that, the machine was able to boot itself over its network connection. The operating system is — no surprise — JavaOS.
By the way, if you happen to have one of these boxes, they can run Linux. Turns out running Linux makes the box faster than the original JavaOS and offers better software choices, too. You can see Corel Office, for example, running on the box and [Cameron] says the slow loading of applications and performance was the chief complaint among users.