Value of a PDP/8?

Zane H. Healy healyzh at aracnet.com
Fri Mar 9 15:36:38 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?

Here would be my input.

Community: It definitely helps when you're stuck

Documentation: Huge factor!  As far as myself and a lot of other people I
know are concerned the DEC documentation is about the best out there.

Hardware Availability: It helps, but it depends on what you're afte, what
you're willing to pay and how patient you are

Software Availability: Is it available?  Depends on multiple factors.  What
you're after, luck, and who you know.  There is software I'm after that I
know of one person who might have it, and they've not been able to find it. 
If you want to run VMS it's fairly available.  But otherwise, unless you're
looking at PDP-10 or maybe PDP-8, you're going to have an interesting time,
and most of the software for the PDP-8's and PDP-10's has been lost.

I've got the following DEC systems at home and either running or so I can
just turn them on.  XP1000/667 (Primary VMS system), XP1000/500 (system to
swap in if primary dies, and for software testing), VAXstation 4000/vlc
(DECnet Area Router), VAXstation 3100/20 (building software), PDP-11/73
(testing, playing, experimenting), PDP-11/23+ (something to stack clean
cloths on).

My primary VMS system is also my home mail server, printserver, database
server, and secure webserver (I even have a wiki running on it now).  I
typically also spend a lot of time on the system daily using it
interactively.

This is just a small sampling of my DEC hardware.  Though much of the other
hardware has either been replaced by what I have listed here, is intended as
parts doners to keep the above running (especially the PDP-11/73), or stuff
I've never really had a chance to play with (such as my PDP-8 & DECmate III 
stuff).

An interesting pair of machines are the VAXen, I actually have a VAXstation
4000/60 and /90, but prefer to use the two I have at home as the VLC is
better suited to its job, and the 3100/20 was setup before I had the better
systems (since I don't really use it, why upgrade it).

I also have a MicroVAX III in storage that has specifically been built to
handle as many types of media as possible.  It would be setup, except I
don't have anywhere near the room required.

> I'm not knocking the DEC crowd in any way - just trying to work out what it is 
> that makes the systems so much more popular than anything else of the time. I 
> feel like I'm missing some vital piece of info :-)

>From what I see, Commadore 64's, Apple ]['s, and Amiga's are just as
popular, however, this list seems to have a very high number of very DEC
oriented people.  Anything else that is non-PC and non-Mac is likely to have
a farily limited following just simply due to the difficulty in getting a
working system.

I'm also interested in Commadore 64's, Apple ]['s, and Amiga's (I own quite
a few of each), but don't really have time to play with them.  A few months
ago, I did spend about a month playing with my best C64.  I have very little
spare time, and the odds are if I'm going to spend it playing with a
computer these days, it's going to be adding new responsibilities to my
XP1000 which runs OpenVMS 7.3-2.  I have PmWiki running on it, and have
spent the last week trying to get MediaWiki running on VMS, but am having
problems with getting it to talk to the version of MySQL running on the
system.

			Zane




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