I got out of school at the apex of the "superminicomputer". Minicomputers had been 16-bits for a number of years, going back to the Data General Nova and DEC's counter with the PDP-11. (Interestingly DEC had 12-bit and 24-bit systems before the PDP-11.) I went to work for Data General as their new 32-bit system rolled out in competition with the DEC VAX. These were called "superminicomputers".
If the J2EE server is the modern mainframe, what is the modern minicomputer? (Please don't say it is the Enterprise Service Bus! 8^)
The PDP-11 is probably my favorite computer to program of all time, even though all I ever used was the assembler. Maybe time makes the heart grow fonder. We had a network of six or so all in a room at school. As I recall the boxes were just a bit larger than a dorm room refrigerator. The instruction set was simple, and we just had fun running and enhancing a very simple custom OS with networking.