DEC handbooks at LA estate sale

Ian S. King isking at
Sun Mar 1 18:43:31 CST 2015

Well, learn something new every day….  :-)  Thanks for enlightening me.

On Sat, Feb 28, 2015 at 1:21 AM, Eric Smith <spacewar at> wrote:

> On Feb 27, 2015 12:57 PM, "Ian S. King" <isking at> wrote:
> >  I believe the PDP-1 used a Flexowriter.  I suspect DEC would have used
> an
> > IBM product over Ken Olsen's dead body.  :-)
> The PDP-1 console typewriter is an IBM (model B IIRC) modified by Soroban
> Engineering for use as an I/O device. It was horribly unreliable, so DEC
> didn't use the same for the PDP-4 and later. CHM has copies of some angry
> correspondence between DEC and Soroban.
> Some PDP-1 sites used Flexowriters for offline operations, and it was
> possible to add them as additional I/O, but they weren't compatible with
> the PDP-1 console interface.
> I think some other PDP-1 I/O options were rebadged IBM equipment with
> DEC-built interfaces, but I don't have details of the specific models. DEC
> didn't have the resources to build all the equipment, and just engineering
> and building all of the interfaces to the OEM devices nearly bankrupted
> them. They optimistically put a wide variety of not-yet-designed I/O
> equipment on the price list, and the salesmen sold *all* of them to
> Lawrence-Livermore. Apparently some of those DEC options only ever sold one
> or two units for the entire line of 18-bit machines.

Ian S. King, MSIS, MSCS, Ph.D. Candidate
The Information School <>

Archivist, Voices From the Rwanda Tribunal <>
Value Sensitive Design Research Lab <>

University of Washington

There is an old Vulcan saying: "Only Nixon could go to China."

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