Scott Stevens chenmel at
Wed Jul 6 20:10:14 CDT 2005

On Tue, 5 Jul 2005 21:42:28 -0700 (PDT)
Vintage Computer Festival <vcf at> wrote:

> On Tue, 5 Jul 2005, William Maddox wrote:
> > Size is probably a big issue, but DEC made some big machines and IBM
> > made some small ones, and the DEC boxes still seem to get more
> > attention from collectors. I think that the relative availability of
> > DEC hardware, software, and documentation simply makes the DEC
> > machines more practical if one's interest is in restoring and
> > running them. That would explain the 8's and 11's anyway. It's
> > frustrating how little of the older non-DEC minicomputer material
> > seems to be available.
> Well, actually, the reason is clear.
> In the old days, IBM was stupid and didn't want anyone to learn about
> their computers.  They kept them locked up behind glass walls where
> one could only drool over them, and only let priveleged people touch
> them.  So in general, most IBM computers (i.e. not the 1620 or 1130)
> were off-limits, and thus there is relatively little hacking
> experience for people today who are older and richer and want to
> reiminisce to draw upon and drive interest in IBM machines.
> DEC, on the other hand, fully understood the hacking instinct. 

It could be reasonably argued that DEC just couldn't make it into the
'First Tier' market so had to make do with the hacker/low-end market. 
IBM pretty much OWNED the first tier in that era.

> They made
> machines that were meant to be touched, programmed, and hacked.  From
> their very first models they made them open and friendly and
> approachable and PERSONAL.  Most people today who went to college from
> the early 1960s onwards probably had access to DEC machines and
> learned to love them as they touched and prodded them and flipped
> their switches and hacked on them all night.  So that experience
> remains with them and today that is what they seek.
> So that's why a DEC PDP-1 will always have much more appeal than a
> gray thing that IBM created.
> IBM wanted to keep computers away from the masses, to keep them in the
> hands of the "priveleged", and their reward was to be able to continue
> to dominate the market to this day.  DEC wanted computers to be free
> and for people to use them.  Their reward was to be sucked up, torn
> apart and destroyed by a lesser company whose origins was in making
> clones of IBM's computers.

I'd hardly say that said 'clones' that you refer to come from the same
heritage as the IBM mainframes you mentioned in the first part of your
posting.  The IBM Clone market was open, far more open, in fact, than
any other computer architecutre in history.  Open, in fact, to the point
where it has been completely comodified and collectors and enthusiasts
'can't get their arms around it' and tend to scorn the clone machines.

Believe me, a day will probably come when people who are in their
twenties now will wax nostalgic on that old Leading Edge or Packard Bell
clone they started out on as a little kid, and want one just like it. 
And most of them will have been melted down.  

> How ironic.
> -- 
> Sellam Ismail                                        Vintage Computer
> Festival-------------------------------------------------------------
> ----------------- International Man of Intrigue and Danger            
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