A search on the Internet using the Google search engine1 revealed a large number of web pages regarding Volker-Craig “termcap” entries for Unix. Other than that, the results are few and far between. Either the Volker has become a relic and few are around, or folks realize what pieces of junk they really are in these modern times.
The following sections are a result of what was found on the Internet.
It also appears that Volker-Craig was founded by two Canadians named Mike Volker from Waterloo, Ontario and Ronald Craig. Mr. Craig now teaches at Wilfrid Laurier University’s business school, also in Waterloo. Mr. Volker has served as Executive Director of the British Columbia Advanced Systems Institute, a firm intended to “seed” other businesses in the Vancouver area. He currently is serving as the Director of Simon Fraser University’s Industry Liaison Office in Burnaby, BC.2
Volker and Craig intended to get a very low cost computer terminal into the hands of the educational community back in the late ’70s. They had succeeded. Volker explains why it is important to keep up technologically:
It happened to me with Volker-Craig, my first company... It was the early 70’s. We were fresh out of university where we had developed all this neat electronics. Our dream was to come up with an “el-cheapo” video display terminal that students could use. We eventually began marketing this innovative new terminal but we didn’t start developing follow-on products fast enough. Our competitors began using newer microprocessor technology and after a couple of years, we found ourselves playing catch-up.3
Volker-Craig indeed survived their “wake-up call” and sold the company in 1981.
Here is an account of the difficulties in programming the control sequences on a Volker as written for Usenet by Richard Shuford:4
News about Volker-Craig terminals
(Canadian terminal vendor from early 1980s)
From: email@example.com (Richard Shuford)
Subject: Re: Telnet for VC4604?
Date: 14 Nov 1996 13:35:19 -0500
Organization: University of Tennessee, Knoxville--Dept. of Computer Science
Expires: 31 Dec 1996 13:14:15 GMT
Keywords: Volker-Craig, emulation, BYTE, ADM-3, Wyse, termcap, hardcoding
Summary: a suggestion for biting the bullet...
In article <E0pnDC.firstname.lastname@example.org>,
email@example.com (Kevin Oberle) writes:
> We have an application that was written many years ago for a specific
> terminal--the Volker-Craig VC404. In fact, the terminal cursor addressing
> commands were hardcoded into the software, so that we can use it only with
> VC terminals (using VC4604’s now).
A regrettable choice of hardcoded hardware....
Now, I HAVE used a Volker-Craig terminal, years ago, when I worked for
BYTE magazine. Carl T. Helmers, the founding editor of BYTE, bought a
bunch of V-C’s. He liked the fact that they were cheap, and that their
serial ports could run at 19,200 bps. Then later on, Carl tried to
actually write a program using one, and he found he liked them less. He
never did get the absolute cursor addressing to work from UCSD Pascal.
Nevertheless, in the period from 1979 to 1983, artist Robert Tinney used
the Volker-Craigs as archetypes for all the computer terminals in
illustrations he drew for BYTE’s covers! One V-C unit was gutted and
sprayed with silver paint and appeared in a 1980 cover photograph in the
short-lived OnComputing magazine.
> I’d like to do away with the terminals, and provide the ability to run the
> app from PCs. Does anyone know of a telnet app (Win95 preferred) that
> emulates a Volker-Craig terminal? Failing that, is there a telnet app
> that allows one to custom tailor the terminal control codes?
I have never even heard rumor of a software package that emulates a
Volker-Craig terminal, on any platform, for any communication channel.
There may be one out there somewhere, but such a critter would be
quite obscure and would probably not use Telnet from Windows 95.
(But if you find one, let me know....) [see below]
If you have the source code for this application, I’d say it’s time
to bite the bullet and change the hardcoding. Using "ncurses"
or a similar facility would give you best flexibility. You can use
the same code review to check for Year-2000 problems, while you are at
If you don’t have the source code, things get harder but may not yet
be hopeless, if you are stouthearted and are willing to try patching
the binary file of the executable.
As I recall, the control sequences for the Volker-Craig terminals are
pretty short and arbitrary. You may be able to figure out where the
existing control codes are in the binary and what they are intended to
do. If so, then you could patch in the control codes for some OTHER
terminal type--one that is more widely emulated.
Alas, the modern control sequences in the VT100 and its relatives, and
for that matter in any ANSI-compliant emulation, are quite verbose
(will take up more bytes), so changing to the most widely emulated
ASCII terminal type is not likely to work. But here are a couple of
terminal types with relatively short control sequences, in no
Emulations of these three are available without too much trouble. All
of them, as well as Volker-Craig VC404, have entries in the global
terminfo/termcap database maintained by Eric Raymond at
so you perhaps could compare codes and functions from those entries
and then patch new codes directly into your application’s image. Then
your users would have a better set of options in what equipment they
need to run the program.
THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES HERE. You are recovering from somebody’s
previous engineering misjudgment.
The Wyse-50 is rather well discussed in the book "termcap & terminfo"
...Richard S. Shuford |"He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and
...firstname.lastname@example.org | he who gives gifts to the rich--both come to poverty.
...Info-Stratus contact| Proverbs 22:16 NIV
My favorite part is that Byte Magazine used a modified Volker as cover art on some of its issues.
One person has a museum where artifacts are stored. A Volker is found within, associated with a system which ran CP/M. Admittedly, Volkers were quite suited to that task. Personally, I would have preferred a VT–100-compatible terminal with it, but in the heyday of CP/M, Volkers were kings.
I just wish there was more on the Internet about Volkers of any kind, not just about a few Volkers being the terminal of choice for university computer users.