Value of a PDP/8?

Brian L. Stuart blstuart at bellsouth.net
Fri Mar 9 12:43:42 CST 2007


> I feel the need to ask - what is it that makes DEC stuff so popular and 
> collectible, versus other machines of the same time period? Generally they're 
> equally as interesting, and often more so (IMHO) due to all the quirks and 
> design differences versus the more mainstream DEC stuff.
> 
> So... why? More of a community? Better documentation? Better hardware or 
> software availability? What do collectors *do* with their running DEC systems 
> anyway?

I can't speak for everyone, but I can cite several reasons why
I'm always more conscious of picking them up:
- Early exposure:  A lot of us used DEC systems in college.  If
we've stuck with the field, we probably have good memories
of that time, and when you start getting to a certain point, the
nostalgia connecting you back to a happier time is worth a
few bucks.
- Availability:  While we'd all love to get our hands on a straight-8
or a PDP-7, there are certainly a number of models that are
quite plentiful.  So newcomers to the hobby can get their feet
wet with with something outside the 8-bit world pretty easily.
- Available software:  Partly because of the availiability of the
hardware, there's a lot of software out there.  So when you
get one up and running, you generally can do more than look
at the blinkin' lights (though that's worthwhile in itself--much
more soothing that a lot of other things).
- Company history:  The history of the company is long enough
to be rich and short enough to be an object lesson.  Because
of that, the machines are connected with an important element
of the overall history of the comuter industry.
- Interesting machines:  As you pointed out, there're often quite
interesting machines.  There's a good collection of documentation
out there both in terms of details of specific models and in terms
of the evolution of the families.
- Connection to other history:  Because they were so widely
deployed, they're associated with a number of other historic
bits of computing history.  UNIX may be the most obvious
example.

Anyway, those are a few that come to mind at the moment.

BLS





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