(Click image for a gallery)
The Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-10
The Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-10 (1964-1983) is one of the most
influential computers in history in more ways than can be listed here. It
was the foundation of the DECsystem-10 and the DECSYSTEM-20 and ran a
variety of operating systems including TOPS-10, ITS, WAITS, TYMCOM-X, TENEX,
and TOPS-20. It was the first widely used timesharing system. It was the
basis of the ARPANET (now Internet). It was the platform upon which many of
today's popular applications were first developed including EMACS, TeX,
ISPELL (the first spell-checker), and Kermit. TOPS-10 (Timesharing
OPerating System-10) preceded TOPS-20 by many years (TOPS-10 circa 1964;
TOPS-20 circa 1976). Its command language is familiar to anybody who has
used RT-11, CP/M, or DOS, all of which were based on it. TOPS-10 supported
interactive timesharing, batch processing, and realtime applications
simultaneously — a difficult mix to accommodate, even today.
DECsystem-1090 KL10-DA #1456, originally owned by Sikorsky Aircraft
Corporation, now at the The Retro-Computing Society of RI. Other PDP-10
models include the original KA10, the KI10, and the KS10. Unlike the
relatively featureless DECSYSTEM-20, the -10 featured DECtapes (center), dials
and gauges, and a visible control panel with lights and switches. Memory is
in separate cabinets with lights across the top (right).
The front panel is actually a separate computer, a PDP-11/40, that acts as
a communications front end for the -10 (the large DEC-20s used the same
front end, but kept it hidden from view).
The 1090 shown above is quite massive, including about 10 full-size cabinets
(CPU, channels, memory, communications, and 9-track tape),
plus three RP06 disk drives, an RP07 disk drive,
a card reader, and a line printer, weighing approximately 12500
pounds all together, over six tons.
The Retro-Computing Society of RI,
August 2001. For a large perspective view of the KL10 CPU and memory
cabinet string, CLICK HERE. For a large view of
the disk and tape drives, CLICK HERE.
This is the older and first PDP-10 model, a KA10 in a large configuration
(click image or maximize browser to enlarge):
disk drives and printer in the foreground, CPU and DECtapes right center,
memory cabinets to its left and a swapping disk and controller to their left,
then data channels and 9-track tapes to its right. Sitting on the floor near
the KA10 control panel: the Teletype console.
Just above the control panel and below the bottom DECtape drive is a
paper-tape reader/punch. Photo: from a DECsystem-10 sales
brochure, courtesy of Michael Thompson,
Retro-Computing Society of RI.
CLICK HERE to see a 1969 PDP-10 advertisement
with a picture of a small KA10 configuration (2.4MB).
Caution: Links go stale faster than anybody can
keep up with.
- TS10: Tim Stark's PDP-10 emulator (First released 7 March 2001):
- ftp://ftp.trailing-edge.com/pub/ts10/ (FTP)
- http://www.sourceforge.net/projects/ts10 (CVS)
- Daniel Seagraves / Hans Pufal's PDP-10 emulator (in progress):
- Bob Supnik's SIMH PDP-1/4/7/8/9/10/11/15 emulator:
- Miscellaneous PDP-10 emulators in various stages of development:
- Dan Murphy's TENEX and TOPS-20 Papers
- Les Earnest: SAIL Away
- DECsystem-10 Kermit:
- The PDP-10 Kermit webpage
- DECSYSTEM-20 Kermit:
- The PDP-10 Kermit webpage
- Tim Shoppa's PDP-10 Software Archive:
- Joe Smith's 36 bits forever!:
- The PDP-10 newsgroup:
- The Kermit newsgroup:
- The Info-Kermit Digest
- Info-Kermit Digest Archives (1983-1995)
- Paul Allen's PDP Planet:
- The Retro-Computing Society of Rhode Island:
Frank da Cruz / firstname.lastname@example.org /
Columbia University Computing History / August 2001
- April 2011