"DEC vs IBM vs ...": vintage availability, was WOW!!!! $15k DEC PDP-8 CLASSIC MINICOMPUTER SYSTEM DIGITAL PDP8
tomj at wps.com
Wed Jul 6 13:52:25 CDT 2005
On Tue, 5 Jul 2005, William Maddox wrote:
> It's frustrating how little
> of the older non-DEC minicomputer material seems to be
I always figured it was you conspiratorial DEC people, buying up
other-make stuff and destroying it to make a one-DEC-world.
Most of the comments in this thread seem correct; the leasing
arrangements; the stuff went back to the factory or was upgraded
A lot of DEC stuff went to universities, where there was a lot of
hands-on in the guts (how many 360's were moded by students and
faculty?), departmental hand-me-down leading to surplus.
Lots of students had direct access to DEC software and hardware;
that breeds familiarity (baby-duck syndrome), actual knowledge,
archived (ahem) softare and docs, and clearly drives nostalgia.
unix. Even when that sucked, you could see source, docs, and
improve it. The box was open.
IBM was far more straightforwardly business/industrial oriented,
and throughout my computer work history (1975 - 1990's) I never
heard of ANYONE EVER having the ability to hack non-PC IBM
hardware and sofware at the OS level.
OS/360. TSO. The box was terribly, terribly closed.
Many manu's like DG appealed to industrial purchasers, who having
less connection to computer culture than university stoonts,
upgraded, scrapped, returned, etc. It's legally/financially
problematic for corporations to let employees have old gear (it
can be done, but most don't make the effort or fear IP leakage).
DEC had large industrial entre, obviously, more or less the same
as other manu's (at whatever scale) but I think university culture
overrode it as far as retro goes.
Most of DECs products are in the SSI-up integration era; you can
actually make them work. Same true for DG et al, but sheer numbers
means that when 90% of (DEC, DG, etc) product got crushed, that
10% was 100,000 units, not 1000 units.
The LGP-30, as an example of a 2nd-gen machine that is well-known
and loved, is (today) a balky, large, delicate and hard to manage
system of hot, fragile, wildly organic and analog components, far
out side most technologists experience (eg. vacuum tubes and
practice involving first-principle physics). It's closer to a
damned radio than it is to an SN7400. And only some 500 were made,
and at 800+ lbs they weren't exactly forgotten in closets, like
stacks of DEC boards can be.
[Lest anyone think I hate IBM -- I don't. I really love the 360
architecture, and would have loved writing assembly for it. It's
just that their business practices weren't conducive to
non-business cultural uses of their systems, until the peecee.]
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