Chapter 4
Volkers on the Internet

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.

4.1 Yes, Virginia, There Is A Mr. Volker and a Mr. Craig

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.

4.2 On the Difficulties Of Using Volkers

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)  
Path: utkcs2!!not-for-mail  
From: (Richard Shuford)  
Newsgroups: comp.terminals,alt.folklore.computers,  
Subject: Re: Telnet for VC4604?  
Followup-To: comp.terminals  
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  
Message-ID: <>  
References: <>  
Keywords: Volker-Craig, emulation, BYTE, ADM-3, Wyse, termcap, hardcoding  
Summary: a suggestion for biting the bullet...  
In article <>, (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  
particular order:  
    Lear-Siegler ADM-3  
    DEC VT52  
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  | 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.

4.3 Other Volker-Craig Related Web Sites Seen

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.

4.4 What I Conclude

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.