jfoust at threedee.com
Tue Apr 3 13:48:24 CDT 2007
At 09:28 AM 4/3/2007, William Donzelli wrote:
>>> 3) Are the stories about the Boston Computer Museum receiving a
>>> complete PDP-6 and then chopping it up to sell as gifts truth or
>>> urban legend?
>Until someone comes up with hard evidence that BCM had one then
>scrapped it - something like photographic evidence of the PDP-6 in the
>collection, inclusion in an official inventory (and then not), or
>otherwise - I discount it as just a story. Nearly everyone I have
>talked to about it is very insistent about BCM scrapping a PDP-6, but
>the sources of their information is always someone else with the same
>unsupported and often inconsistent facts. Basically, the whole story
>has too many of the red flags that make up a good urban legend.
OK, I bought one of those boards on eBay a few years ago.
I sent an email to Gordon Bell to establish provenance.
See below. I sent him a picture of the board.
Subject: RE: PDP-6 board from The Computer Museum, Boston
Date: Fri, 10 Feb 2006 14:06:59 -0800
Message-ID: <5AE8A38330D3664FAEB010BC1D00283901499120 at RED-MSG-20.redmond.corp.microsoft.com>
From: "Gordon Bell" <gbell at microsoft.com>
To: "John Foust" <jfoust at threedee.com>
Cc: "John Toole" <toole at computerhistory.org>, "Len Shustek" <len at shustek.com>,
"Kirsten Tashev" <tashev at computerhistory.org>,
"Dag Spicer" <spicer at computerhistory.org>
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 10 Feb 2006 22:07:16.0050 (UTC) FILETIME=[5A382320:01C62E8E]
I signed the PDP-6, 4 register, bit slice board in the photo.
It came from the Computer Museum in Boston where it was sold in their store
Let me be clear The Computer Museum (TCM) was NEVER called the Boston Computer Museum...
Boston was a temporary home when computing passed through New England, but the city itself gave nothing to it.
I don't believe the origin can be traced to any machine, since there were no serial numbers, and the modification level would also be too hard to correlate with any time or place.
The Museum got a large number of spares and scraps of all kinds from Digital and it was undoubtedly one of those.
To my knowledge, the museum has never engaged in gutting machines for components, although I would happily agree that this is a good idea when we have duplicates and crippled or partial artifacts.
As a former collector, founder, and board member of the Digital Computer Museum > The Computer Museum >> current Computer History Museum (a name I deplore and that exists only because of the way the Museum left Boston) I have always been a strong advocate of getting as many artifacts into as many hands as possible, and this includes selling museum artifacts when appropriate. In essence a whole industry of museums and collectors is essential.
Incidentally, at one point there was a flame in pre-blog days about the tragedy of the museum selling boards, etc. in which I never engaged.
As someone who has contributed about $10 million as well as time, etc. to this endeavor, I can only shake my head... and wonder where those folks were when the museum needed their financial and time support.
The lovely ending is that the museum finally has a wonderful home and caring environment with lots of people that support it with love, time, and money.
Hope you have or intend to visit it in Mountain View.
I trust I have your own financial support and trust you are a member there, too.
From: John Foust [mailto:jfoust at threedee.com]
Sent: Saturday, February 11, 2006 1:31 AM
To: Gordon Bell
Subject: PDP-6 board from BCM?
Can I confirm the provenance of an item I purchased?
It's an S6205D board, signed by "Gordon Bell". Below is a Usenet
post that may describe the event at the Boston Computer Museum
where it was first sold.
Did you sign this board, and do you remember the circumstances?
Article 1624 of alt.sys.pdp10:
From: amartin at denton.zko.dec.com (Alan H. Martin)
Subject: Re: Working for PDP-10 En
Date: 21 Feb 1996 13:12:21 GMT
Message-ID: <4gf5nl$kun at zk2nws.zko.dec.com>
References: <DMJ1IM.MuJ at network.com> <1996Feb14.164932.1 at eisner.decus.org> <aldersonDMsnx7.5vM at netcom.com>
In article <aldersonDMsnx7.5vM at netcom.com> alderson at netcom.com writes:
>In article <1996Feb14.164932.1 at eisner.decus.org> stevens_j at eisner.decus.org
>(Jack H. Stevens) writes:
>>How about trying The Computer Museum, in Boston? (also at http://www.tcm.org)
>Bad idea. The Computer Museum has buried any interesting (read "36-bit")
>hardware. They were given, for example, the Stanford Artificial Intelligence
>Laboratory PDP-6 in 1984, after it was shown at the Fall DECUS Symposia (for
>the 20th Anniversary of 36-Bit Computing).
>It has never been made available for public view; as far as anyone can tell,
>it has disappeared from the face of the earth.
I'm hazy on dates, but if the 6 in question was donated before the museum's
move from MR2 to Boston, you ain't likely to see it in one piece ever again.
They had a garage sale of unwanted items in the MR1 cafeteria one Saturday
before the move, and were selling a PDP-6 module-by-module. An S6205K
"Arithmetic Registers" module (1-bit slice of AR/MQ/MB/<light buffer>) went
for $7, autographed by Gordon Bell.
I asked him whether read-in mode was implemented as a diode array encoding
instructions. He said no, and kindly recommended the 6205 as a particularly
central module to have, instead.
Alan Howard Martin AMartin at TLE.ENet.DEC.Com
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