Stanford's PDP-6

Rich Alderson RichA at
Thu Jun 18 13:54:52 CDT 2009

> From: Len Shustek
> Sent: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 7:53 PM

> This issue resurfaces every few years.  My first post related to it 
> was to alt.sys.pdp10 on 2/28/1996 2:54 PM.  The last time I saw it 
> discussed was February of 2006.  I have various messages on the 
> subject in my email archive, including those between Gordon Bell and 
> Rich Alderson in 1999.


I do not recall ever exchanging e-mail with Gordon Bell, but it's possible
that I have forgotten in the 10 years that apparently have passed since I
did so.  (I can't believe that I'd have forgotten such a correspondence,
particularly on this topic, but anything is possible.)  I do not have access
to e-mail from that particular time in my career and cannot check.

Here's the problem with the assertions that this did not happen:  The sale
of scrap boards was apparently prior to the 1984 move of the SAIL PDP-6 to
Anaheim, and thence to a location somewhere in the greater Boston area from
which it in essence disappeared.  (The Computer History Museum apparently
has the Fast Memory cabinet, from what Al has said, but none of the rest of
the machine; I went through the storage area at Moffett following DECworld
2001, in company with another attendee and some CHM folks, I believe including
Al, looking for it, and have since gone through the "back rooms" at CHM
prior to the storage move to Milpitas while looking for a KA-10, but never
saw a sign of the PDP-6.)  Several years after the 20th Anniversary, there
was a report that pieces of a PDP-6 were being sold at TCM, no one could
account for the whereabouts of the one from SAIL, and a possibly erroneous
conclusion was drawn.  But nothing said to refute this conclusion has been
particularly convincing to me, since no one can say what did happen to the

I don't want to believe that this ever happened.  I believe fully in the
integrity of those who say that it did not, and that they have investigated
as best they could something that (may have) happened two decades ago, but
I also believe fully in the integrity of the TCM visitor who first drew the
conclusion that the SAIL PDP-6 was dismantled.  I myself will no longer
tell the story, but as a courtesy to people I respect rather than from a
change in my own beliefs.

Rich Alderson
Vintage Computing Server Engineer
Vulcan, Inc.
505 5th Avenue S, Suite 900
Seattle, WA 98104

mailto:RichA at
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