Stanford's PDP-6 ( was Re: Hardware Hobbyists vs. EmulatorJockeys)

Brent Hilpert hilpert at
Thu Jun 18 15:15:49 CDT 2009

William Donzelli wrote:
> > Perhaps I overstate it in saying 'there is no story'; if this 1960's machine
> > was seen in substantially complete form (is that accurate?) at a DECUS event 20
> > years later in the 80's and hasn't been seen since, then certainly there is the
> > disconcerting question of what happened to it.
> The 1980s were a bloodbath for these machines. 20-25 year old
> computers were pretty much just looked at as metal, especially in a
> corporate museum (remember, corporate museums play under different
> rules, often dictated by the marketing and accounting departments). We
> can lament the loss of this PDP-6, but we must remember that many
> other very important machines (probably) reached extinction in the
> 1980s as well. Where are the members of the IBM 7000 line? The big
> Burroughs machines? The Univac 1100 line?

Yes, most of the big machines from the 50's and 60's, like the 7000 series, saw
a few years of life, were decommissioned and promptly scrapped. It was a
brand-new, fast-changing industry and significant portions of a warehouse would
be needed to hold onto them.

However, for a machine like the PDP-6 to have survived 20 years was remarkable
by the 80's. It would seem from the discussion that in the case of the SAIL
machine there was recognition and interest in it's historicity even then, it
was known to and around people who might appreciate it, so it is more
perplexing that it cannot now be found.

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