Kiel PDP-10 [was RE: pdp8/e frontpanel lamps]

Philipp Hachtmann hachti at
Sun Oct 25 20:47:27 CDT 2009

Hi Rich,

>> Are they? Perhaps the PDP-10 uses them in their header panels? If that's 
>> the case, I could harvest some from the system in Kiel - it will never 
>> run again,
> WHY NOT???  :-(((
I've been told that the University of Kiel's PDP-10 installation 
originally was largest in Europe.
In the early 90s, the system went out of service. At that point they 
already discarded masses of equipment. I've been told of many tons of 
disk drives, tape drives and so on.
The Kiel museum/collectors society who were tracking the University's 
computing department's "output" for many years saved a complete system 
consisting of two KI10 (not sure, but older than KL10) processors, 
memory, drum memory, peripheral controllers, and some peripherals. About 
25 racks. And a row of RP02/03 disk drives. And tons of cables and 
documentation. That roughly describes what has been kept in basements 
over the last years.
Since last year, the FH Kiel (technical college) took over the whole 
collection that contained the pdp10. They are currently in the process 
of compiling a permanent exhibition of computing history in an old WW2 
shelter that is currently being prepared for that. They have to deal 
with massive space limitations compared to the volume of existing stuff 
in the collection. So they started to sort out things. Their interest is 
do display stuff, not to run stuff (but at least a pdp8/e will be 
runnable, perhaps we repair the 8/i as well).
They are in touch with the guy who maintained the machine (the guy with 
the lamps). He selected about five cabinets and one RP02 disk drive for 
the exhibition. The exact minimum of stuff that can be called "pdp10 
system, complete". The rest has been given away to collectors. I 
personally saved some stuff (RP drives, RS04 drives, CR10 card reader), 
the biggest part went to collectors who have in mind to get the stuff 
working again.

The documentation for the pdp10 (or most of it, It will probably my job 
to dig through the remaining docs of the collection) has been thrown 
away with respect to the fact that the system will "never run again".
A very lucky circumstance was that Erik Brens was standing next to the 
trash when that happened. So the recycling took place on eBay instead of 
a paper mill.

 > If it were in the hands of someone who actually carecd about it, 
could it be
 > made to run?

The "never run again" comes from the DEC service engineer. He told the 
Kiel official people (and me) that it would be possible (if the docs and 
cables etc. were still there, of course) to get the system back to work. 
But for that he would need at least one year of work (3 month to move 
the system from one building to another, with 4 people!!). He is sure 
that nobody else would be able to get it running. And he is not 
interested to do it as there also is no interest and money to get the 
system running again. So it will be there, nice and clean. And never run 

Hopefully the guys who got the major part of the system will be 
interested and skilled enough to get their stuff working. That would be 
a resurrection of great historic value!

Best wishes,


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