Thinking about acquiring PDP stuff

allison ajp166 at
Fri Dec 2 17:42:47 CST 2016

On 12/02/2016 06:18 PM, Brad H wrote:
> -------- Original message --------
> From: allison <ajp166 at> 
> Date: 2016-12-02  2:23 PM  (GMT-08:00) 
> To: cctalk at 
> Subject: Re: Thinking about acquiring PDP stuff 
> On 12/02/2016 12:33 PM, Brad H wrote:
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: cctalk [mailto:cctalk-bounces at] On Behalf Of Rich Alderson
>> Sent: Thursday, December 1, 2016 1:34 PM
>> To: 'General Discussion: On-Topic and Off-Topic Posts' <cctalk at>
>> Subject: RE: Thinking about acquiring PDP stuff
>> From: Brad H
>> Sent: Thursday, December 01, 2016 8:18 AM
>>> My Intellec 230 though might give a PDP a run for its money.
>> See, I'm trying to get you to stop saying "a PDP".  There's no such thing.
>> There are families of PDP-n things, but there are wide differences in size, weight, and capabilities.
>> Your Intellec 230 would fit inside one memory cabinet of a PDP-10 with room to spare.  The entire PDP-10 system weighs tons.
>>                                                                  Rich
>> Rich Alderson
>> Sr. Systems Engineer
>> Living Computers: Museum + Labs
>> 2245 1st Ave S
>>> Seattle, WA 98134
>> Sorry.. I was being lazy.. I should have said 'a PDP 8/E'.  Obviously there are some pretty large PDP-# systems.
> That's more than lazy!  Just don't!
> The PDP-8 and the PDP11 and PDP10 were beating the pants off of Intellec
> 2xx systems
> for years before the first one was made.  Remember Billy Gates used a
> PDP10 cross
> assembler and simulator to create BASIC.  The market those DEC system
> were in
> demanded far more performance than the 8080 from 1974 could deliver.
> An 8e running WPS was typically a multi-user system.
> A PDP-8E running TSS could service 8-16 users in what appeared to them
> as real time.
> That was the original Boces Lirics system of 1969 a whopping three racks
> of PDP-8i
> The PDP-8e was a tad faster.  Fast forward to the early 90s and my
> Decmate-III with APU
> and running OS278 likely make the I230 look poor and it was much
> smaller.  FYI the DMIII
> is a PDP-8 on a chip (cmos 6120 cpu).  The APU was a z80 at 4mhz with 64K
> ram and could
> still easily outrun the I230 and gave me the choice to use 0S278 (a
> version of OS8),
> WPS (word and list processing), and CP/M-80.
> A PDP-10 (BOCES LIRICS system 1970!) serviced over 300 users.  A 36bit
> monster.
> The CPU and the memory was eight 6ft racks long by two rows big not
> including the four RP06s.
> That system used the old PDP8i to keep it fed (data concentrator).
> A PDP-11/23 with a 10MB disk in a single 50inch short cab running TSX or
> other time sharing
> system usually  supported 4-8 users. It was a 16bit system at that. 
> They usually fit in the corner.
> A Intellect 230 was handily beat by my NS*Horizon system in 1980. 
> That's allowing for
> the fact that the I230 was 8080 powered and ran at 2mhz (2:1 handicap). 
> I know the
> system well as I used it to develop programs for 8048/9, 8085, 8088, and
> other micros
> of the day till we retired it for a faster box (multibus 8086 at 8mhz in
> 1981).
> So a knowledge of computer history and performance is is something to
>> consider.
>> Allison
> Sorry.. when I said 'beat'.. I meant weight only.  And only for the main PDP-8e system unit.  Was not comparing processing speed.  But I appreciate all the info you gave me there for sure. :)
An 8e box with boards for a reasonable system is still heavier than a
I230.  That's not
counting the IO terminal (asr33). :)  I know that as I've had the
opportunity to carry
both of them to the door and if I got there it was mine, they aren't
light at all.  FYI I
think the DEC docs for the 8E might weigh in as impressive!

DEC did some impressive boxes, the documentation and training alone was also
pretty important as many of the people familiar with them get their
training that
way.  Intel learned from that model which is why databooks and other
info is
common from the era.  Later RS, Apple, and even IBM would follow the model
of get while they are young and make them loyal.


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