PDP-1 as minicomputer [was RE: OT - sort of]

William Donzelli wdonzelli at gmail.com
Tue Aug 17 18:59:26 CDT 2010

> However, at the same time IBM's product line consisted of machines that still cost ten times as much, could NOT be meaningfully maintained without an operations staff and were fundamentally designed for batch processing.

Compare apples to oranges - when the VAX-11 line was out, IBM had the
4300 line. These machines were specifically designed not to require
operations staff, a big infrastructure, pure batch operation, and so
forth. Burroughs had the 1900 line with pretty much the same low
maintenance ideas going on. The 4300 line was a huge hit for IBM (the
1900 line was so-so for Burroughs).

> For counterpoint, the PDP-10 was never intended to be anything other than a mainframe-class machine.  Its capabilities, capacity and footprint all served as direct competition to System/360.

They never managed to get the whole RAS thing right, so the mainframe
shops tended not to pay any attention to the PDP-10 line. They did for
the VAX, but by then DEC had learned a few things about maintenance
and reliability (and power supplies).

> So DEC != minicomputer, although they were the leading manufacturer of that class of machine for many years - indeed, until the microcomputer began overshadowing the mini.

It is easy for us to think that, in a sort of techie-hacker-academic
way, but when the numbers all shake out, IBM may have had the biggest
slice of the pie. We just tend to ignore all those beige minicomputers
that were doing boring financial jobs in tax accounting shops and

Anyway, the real answer is a machine is what it is.


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