One of the first minicomputer systems that I worked with extensively was a Digital Equipment Corporation’s VAX machine. The particular machine that I used, a VAX 11/730, was at the time (1983) an entry-level minicomputer that cost just under $40,000 (that’s just the CPU!) and delivered real-world performance of about 0.15 MIPS.
February 2014: I found these photos of the equipment used in one of my early security consulting projects. This was the gear used to support Europe’s first Internet-accessible stock trading system:
There were two firewalls in this configuration (separating the DMZ from internal and external networks), plus two application processors. All of these were built atop Sun Ultra 1 systems (each one featured a 143 MHz processor, 32M RAM, and a 1GB disk for about $16,000 in 1997 dollars).