Using vintage computers in the classroom

Tony Duell ard at
Tue Mar 30 14:23:19 CDT 2010

> On Mon, Mar 29, 2010 at 3:25 PM, Ian King <IanK at> wrote:
> > We're still in our first steps, and haven't made a lot of use of vintage systems in the classroom (although I do like to bring along my PDP-8/f, just to demonstrate what a desktop computer looked like in 1970).
> If you have a moving van, you could bring a DataSystem 310 (PDP-8/a
> w/RX02) to show that in 1978, a desktop computer was so-called because
> it came with its own desk.  ;-)

Hmmm. I would argue the HP Model 30 Calculator (aka HP9830) from 1973 is 
a desktop computer. Or at least I'd love to see a sensible definition of 
'desktop computer' that excludes it.

That machine is portable in the sense 1 person can easily carry it (HP 
even sold an optional carrying handle..). I've carreid mine into 
buildings to give talks/demonstrations of it.

> The Straight-8, the -8/S, the -8/L and the -8/e all had "desktop"
> configurations as well as rackable configurations (i.e. - factory-made
> desktop covers (black metal except for the Straight-8, which was
> smoked plexi), but I think the other models of PDP-8 only had rackable
> packages (not that you couldn't leave a PDP-8 out on a desk, but in

I have. On the deks alongside me is a PDP8/e, a TU56 and sittiog on top 
of the TU56 is a PC04.

> terms of aesthetics, vents, mounting ears, etc., they weren't "desk
> pretty").


Philips mdea portable version of the P850 minicomputer. It was a standard 
P850 chassis in a plastic casing.I suspect it took 2 people to move it 
sensibly. I have never seen it, only pictures.


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