Ancient computer DEC PDP-8 50th anniversary next week - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 2015-03-13, 12:13 PM Thread Starter
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Ancient computer DEC PDP-8 50th anniversary next week

Many years ago, the Digital Equipment PDP-8 was a popular low cost minicomputer, often found in business, schools and labs. It had a 12 bit word and while much less powerful than the mainframes of the day, it was entirely suitable for many tasks. It was essentially the beginning of low(er) cost computing. While not exactly a "home" computer, some found their way there, after being retired from their original use. There was also a microprocessor that ran the PDP-8 instruction set.

The 50th anniversary of the PDP-8 is March 22.

BTW, many years ago, early in my career, I used to maintain a PDP-8/i.

I haven't lost my mind. It's around here...somewhere...
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 2015-03-13, 02:04 PM
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I used to work with a guy who had been a front line support tech for DEC back then. My first real programming experience was on a VAX-11, a distant descendent of the PDP-8.



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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 2015-03-13, 02:34 PM
 
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I worked on PDP 8,9 and 15 before the PDP 11 came on the scene. Message switching and hybrid computing.
The original PDP 8 with the memory cards visible through the smoked plastic " brain box"
Fan fold paper tape.
DecTapes.
The different colour keys on the front panel depending on which exact model.
Decus and the enormous amount of free software available.

Good times!



Stampeder. The VAX -11 was the direct descendent of the PDP-11 Two generations away from the PDP-8


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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 2015-03-13, 02:43 PM
 
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I remember using VAX/VMS in first year university. IIRC it had a built in chat system back then.
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 2015-03-13, 03:32 PM
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I can't remember what version of the hardware we were using but throughout most of the 80's my office (government) was on a VAX system, their All-In-1/email system (yes it included a Chat type function) and just about everything DEC. Digital Equipment Corporation was a huge operation back then, rivalling IBM. Looking back now it makes one wonder where today's tech. giants will be in 50 years. Just about everything in IT is highly ephemeral. Most of yesterday's companies are gone now. Anyone remember Wang for word processing for example or Commodore? Their success was fleeting.
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 2015-03-13, 03:43 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
My first real programming experience was on a VAX-11
I also worked on the VAX 11/780, several PDP-11s, a variety of Data General Nova & Eclipse models, Collins C8500 and PR1ME computers. Back in those days, I was a technician repairing & maintaining all those systems.

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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 2015-03-13, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by stampeder
The VAX -11 was the direct descendent of the PDP-11 Two generations away from the PDP-8
Yep, as I say, a distant descendent, not a close one.



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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 2015-03-13, 10:04 PM
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The PDP-8 was popular for Unix. The first Unix system I used was a PDP-8, way back in second year university. We used it to cross compile programs for a Motorola 68000 processor, if anyone remembers those.* The PDP-8 was a rather unusual beast since it sat in a room next to the computing lab and not in a sterile, secretive, far off computer center administered by IBM trained operators. The PDP-8 administrator was a rather hip looking dude named Maji, who later on became the university's head of IT.

*The 68000 was a very well designed processor, much better than the Intel 8086 but IBM decided to use the 8086 for their PC. This helped cause the eventual demise of Motorola's 68000 line and the incredible success of Intel and its x86 processors, which are still used today.
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 2015-03-14, 05:29 AM
 
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I agree re the 68000. The early MACs used it did they not?
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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 2015-03-14, 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by reidw View Post
I can't remember what version of the hardware we were using but throughout most of the 80's my office (government) was on a VAX system, their All-In-1/email system (yes it included a Chat type function) and just about everything DEC. Digital Equipment Corporation was a huge operation back then, rivalling IBM. Looking back now it makes one wonder where today's tech. giants will be in 50 years. Just about everything in IT is highly ephemeral. Most of yesterday's companies are gone now. Anyone remember Wang for word processing for example or Commodore? Their success was fleeting.
Same place I am ....Freedom 52 ....15 years ago!

IBM 082, 401, 1401, 7010,, 360-20,, 360-30, 360,,,,PDP 11, Dec VAX/VMS, Client server DEC Alpha's, Wang Mini, Burroughs, NCR...IBM PC and others. It was a pain to maintain applications on all that.
HappY I am done with it. (Somebody started this! I couldn't help myself)
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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 2015-03-15, 10:26 PM
 
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I also programmed assembler on the PDP-8 and PDP-10 at Algonquin college .... a long time ago. Back then they had a Dec System 10 as their "mainframe"

Ahhh ... the memories
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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 2015-03-16, 04:36 PM
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@bhoward: Indeed we have. I started in 1973 and it is mind boggling how far computers have come since then. Today's kids have no idea but that's a subject for another thread.
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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 2015-03-16, 04:47 PM
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Today's kids have no idea
No kidding. Their smartphone is probably about a million times more powerful than the PDP-8. That didn't stop people from doing useful work on the PDP-8 though. It just took a lot longer.
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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 2015-03-16, 10:17 PM
 
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WOW ... there were computers in 1973

Our lab had a number of PDP-xx machine. One course was to r/w hard drives in assembler. Next semester we learnt they had MACRO's for that ..... sure they could not tell us that first LMAO

The current crop cell phones are a million times more powerful that PC in the '90
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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 2015-03-16, 10:38 PM
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PCs were about 10-15 years behind mini-computers in power and technology so both statements are roughly correct. The first mainframe I worked on was about as powerful as the first IBM PC, introduced about 20 years later. The mainframe had 48KB of "core" memory, a card reader and several tape drives. After a couple of years, it was upgraded with a 5MB hard drive, like the IBM PC but the mainframe hard drive was the size of a refrigerator and had removable platters. Prior to adding the hard drive, programs that were too big (over about 100 lines of code) would make it would run out of memory and crash.
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