In Feb. 1982, Sun Microsystem is founded. And in 1985 it begins work
on its SPARC processor.
In Jul. 1987, Sun Microsystems introduces its first SPARC-based system, the Sun-4/260, with 10 MIPS performance.
In 1989 Sun introduced the SPARCstation 1, rated at 12.5 MIPS
20-MHz, 1.4 MFLOPS, for a base price of US$9000.
This blew away all other competition on the desktop, because most competitors were still waiting to get volume quantities of Motorola's 68040 chip, to replace their 68030 models.
In fact the 68040 took a long time in coming, which forced many workstation oem's to ship older models with the promise of a future upgrade.
The SPARCstation 1 was the first computer to include an SBus interface.
In 1987 Sun had already achieved a leading position in the Unix workstation
market with its two product lines based on Motorola 68020, and Intel 386
processor technology. The 386i was positioned as a lower cost, lower
performance workstation compared to the Motorola based Sun-3 family.
The 386i's DOS emulation and ease of use feature were calculated to entice users who might be intimidated by the cold shell of a pure Unix machine.
In fact, within a few years, Sun was to drop both Intel and Motorola platforms and migrate its entire customer base to SPARC.
In 1987 you could expect to pay about $30,000 for a usable SPARC based system.
If you paid more, then what you got was more I/O, RAM or disk, but the processor power was restricted to a single CPU.
By the end of 1996 a high end SPARC mainframe could cost over $1M, while at the low end, you could get a desktop SPARC based webterminal, the JavaStation for under $1,000.
Details of screen during boot
Floppy drive on right side