Wednesday, July 17, 2013

PDP 8 Vintage Computer finds new home in the 'Win" Collection

Win Heagy
Win Heagy visited the 'Bugbook Historical Computer Museum'  in Floyd, Virginia and loaded an antique PDP 8 minicomputer (50 years old)  in his Subaru Outback for his collection. We had 2 of the original PDP 8 computers here at our museum and it is a pleasure to have a new home  for one of the PDP 8 Minicomputers.

                          David and Win talk about the PDP 8 for the 'Win' Collection

When I started my teaching career at Virginia Tech in 1967 one of my first task was to purchase a computer for the Department of Chemistry.  In 1967 the original PDP 8 minicomputer was already 3 years old and the PDP 8I was the latest version. The I indicated the PDP 8I was made with integrated circuit technology and moved beyond the original PDP 8 built from discrete components of transistors, diodes, resistors, capacitors and a few other parts.  With the" I"  version simple integrated circuits replaced most of the transistor logic. The integrated circuits were  TTL 7400 series gates and flip-flops. This did make the computer smaller by using fewer printed circuit cards. No large scale integrated circuits (LSI) used in the PDP8 computer.

                     Video of Win and his new (50 year old) PDP 8 Minicomputer  

Up date on Win's progress with the PDP8 in his workshop 8-12-13

I finished disassembling my PDP-8 today and moved everything to the
basement except the empty rack.  I think I can get that down tomorrow.
 I rigged a winch in the garage today to help get the backplane out of
the rack.  Worked pretty well.  Turned out I could have disassemble
the backplane a little more while it was still in the rack...part of
the learning process.  It'll just be easier to put it back together
when the time comes.  Lots of cleaning to do first though, and then
start looking at the power supply. Win


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I  remember going to the classes about the PDP 8I computer at  'Digital Equipment Corporation' in Maynard Massachusetts in the late 60's and it was exciting. This was just before microprocessors became available in 1971. My computer experiences  were a big awaking and insanely great journey. In 1957(I can't believe that was 56 years ago) I was sent to computer school by the Navy to learn about the  big Univac tube monster computers  in St. Paul Minnesota.  Then onto the minicomputers during my career at Virginia Tech (VT) . During my 31 years of teaching about electronics at VT the evolving computer technology when from Mini - early Microcomputer - IBM PC - All the Apple machines and 100s of other companies that tried to make it in the  personal computer market -- however  the only  Apple and IBM succeeded long term and now IBM has dropped out the the personal computer business. Dave

Here is Win's Video Channel - Lots of computer video's 

 Museum Facebook Page.

LR Win - Dave
It was a real pleasure to have Win Heagy (Win on the left and me) visit our museum again and this time drive away with a antique PDP 8 Minicomputer. Win also visited in April 2013. I am working to move the duplicate computers in our 'Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum' into other museums and collections.

   "by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector/Historian


  1. Congratulation for the great post. Those who come to read your article will find lots of helpful and informative tips.

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  2. Hi Sager - Thank you I am encouraged by your comment. I hope folks do learn some computer historical information and other interesting stories about these old computers. It is fun for me to do these blog posts because I have been working with and associated with computers for over 55 years and was in the thick of it when microprocessor came into the silicon world. I have a lot to learn and find new information about historical computer stuff everyday when researching for this blog. Dave KK4WW


I look forward to your comments and will respond.