36-bits, no waiting (was Re: Paul Allen's DECsystem-10)

Teo Zenios teoz at neo.rr.com
Tue Jan 9 23:46:39 CST 2007

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Ethan Dicks" <ethan.dicks at gmail.com>
To: "General Discussion: On-Topic and Off-Topic Posts"
<cctalk at classiccmp.org>
Sent: Wednesday, January 10, 2007 12:23 AM
Subject: 36-bits, no waiting (was Re: Paul Allen's DECsystem-10)

> On 1/10/07, Brad Pritts <bpritts at pritts.com> wrote:
> > Well, we used lots of PDP-10's in the timesharing... business in
> > the '70's and '80's.  By the late '80's this business was dying fast.
But it was fun.
> Indeed.
> > Yes, Compuserve was a big player...
> There are still 36-bit machines (Systems Concepts SC-40s, IIRC)
> running in Columbus at what _used_ to be called CompuServe
> Headquarters (now just another AOL campus :-/ )  They got rid of the
> DEC-manufactured machines well over 10 years ago, but still run their
> endlessly hacked version of TOPS-10 on real (not emulated) 36-bit
> hardware.
> I haven't seen them since 2003, but at that time, there were more SC
> machines at the WorldCom data center in Hilliard, OH (at what was
> _going to be_ CompuServe Headquarters before the company was bought
> and divided).  I was told that WorldCom had to keep them running for
> some obscure billing app that was written in FORTRAN and couldn't be
> ported (or at least had been the subject of several failed attempts to
> port).  Given the history of things, I would think it was full of
> CompuServe extensions, perhaps what they called XF4, perhaps something
> descended from that.
> So in Central Ohio, at least, 36-bits survived into the 21st Century
> for commercial usage.  Personally, the last "productive" thing I did
> was to run Zork under the Panda distro of klh10/TOPS-20.  I used to
> have a 36-bit account when I worked at CompuServe, but they'd cleaned
> all the old "service" menus and items off before I started there - it
> was an empty shell of its former glory by 2001.
> -ethan

Speaking of CompuServe, what happened to all the files those online services
used to have (like hardware drivers and software upgrades) before the
internet took over as a source of file distribution?

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