Computer Museum news about computers, microcomputers, hobbyist, robotics, computing, Bugbooks, Computers in the Bugbook Historical Computer Museum collection, & amateur radio staion N4USA .

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Vintage Computers -First PDP computers from Digital Equipment Corporation early 1960's

 Lyle Bickley tell story of how Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) started to make their first Minicomputers.

Digital Equipment Corporation DEC
How and why Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) started to make minicomputer in the early 1960's. DEC was already making digital modules for science and industrial use. These consisted of the usual AND , OR , NOR, NAND , NOT gates and various filp-flops. Other special modules were made for instrumentation as well. 

Having all this digital capability DEC engineers wanted to use the modules to make a computer. Management resisted this for fear of competition from big Blue (IBM).  Management finally gave in however the computer could not be called a computer it was called a "Programed Data Processor" or just PDP.  The first was the PDP1 soon followed by the PDP8. Folks began calling them minicomputers.

These early PDP computers  are in great demand by collectors however it is believed only 3 PDP1's still exist and the only one operational is at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.  Later models are available but the very early ones - PDP8, PDP8S are difficult for collectors and computer retro  folks to find. I was very fortunate to have acquired several original PDP8, PDP8S and PDP11/70 computers. My interest is more with historical microcomputers. The PDP minicomputers in the "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum" have now been pasted on to other retro collectors of minicomputers. You will some of my past blog posting about these transfers/collectors.

PDP1 Minicomputer
PDP1 Minicomputer 
Photo of DEC PDP1 minicomputer at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.  Lyle Bickley (seated at the control panel) is on the PDP1 restoration team at the museum.  This is the only operational PDP1 in the world.

Video of the PDP1 restoration story by Lyle Bickley 'CLICK'

Photo L-R My wife Gaynell Larsen - Bob  Rosenbloom and Lyle Bickley. This visit was in October 2013.

David Larsen
Thank you Lyle Bickley for allowing me to make this audio story and publishing it on my blog post.  The recording was made while touring the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California --- lots of background noise however I found the story very interesting and I hope you do as well . Thank you for taking a look - listen.

 "by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian   
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