Kiel PDP-10 [was RE: pdp8/e frontpanel lamps]

Rich Alderson RichA at
Mon Oct 26 17:55:41 CDT 2009

> From: Philipp Hachtmann
> Sent: Sunday, October 25, 2009 6:47 PM

> Hi Rich,

Hi, Philipp,

First let me state that I misunderstood which system was under discussion.
I thought you meant the other KI10, the one associated with all the RP disks
and cables and such that have been discussed in passing.  I was already
upset that the 1077 had been separated into two 1070s, and thought that no
one intended to do anything with *either* of them.

>>> Are they? Perhaps the PDP-10 uses them in their header panels? If that's
>>> the case, I could harvest some from the system in Kiel - it will never
>>> run again,

>> WHY NOT???  :-(((

> I've been told that the University of Kiel's PDP-10 installation
> originally was largest in Europe.

> In the early 90s, the system went out of service. At that point they
> already discarded masses of equipment. I've been told of many tons of
> disk drives, tape drives and so on.

> The Kiel museum/collectors society who were tracking the University's
> computing department's "output" for many years saved a complete system
> consisting of two KI10 (not sure, but older than KL10) processors,
> memory, drum memory, peripheral controllers, and some peripherals. About
> 25 racks. And a row of RP02/03 disk drives. And tons of cables and
> documentation. That roughly describes what has been kept in basements
> over the last years.

Given that it was using RP02/RP03 disk drives, it is highly unlikely to be
anything other than KI10 processors, which are late for a KA10 and very early
for a KL10.

> Since last year, the FH Kiel (technical college) took over the whole
> collection that contained the pdp10. They are currently in the process
> of compiling a permanent exhibition of computing history in an old WW2
> shelter that is currently being prepared for that. They have to deal
> with massive space limitations compared to the volume of existing stuff
> in the collection. So they started to sort out things. Their interest is
> do display stuff, not to run stuff (but at least a pdp8/e will be
> runnable, perhaps we repair the 8/i as well).

I would encourage you to repair the 8/i and put the two side by side.  We
are doing exactly that.

> They are in touch with the guy who maintained the machine (the guy with
> the lamps). He selected about five cabinets and one RP02 disk drive for
> the exhibition. The exact minimum of stuff that can be called "pdp10
> system, complete". The rest has been given away to collectors. I
> personally saved some stuff (RP drives, RS04 drives, CR10 card reader),
> the biggest part went to collectors who have in mind to get the stuff
> working again.

I'm sorry that they took that path, but I do understand.

> The documentation for the pdp10 (or most of it, It will probably my job
> to dig through the remaining docs of the collection) has been thrown
> away with respect to the fact that the system will "never run again".
> A very lucky circumstance was that Erik Brens was standing next to the
> trash when that happened. So the recycling took place on eBay instead of
> a paper mill.

Hmm.  I'm not sure that scattering it to the winds on eBay was much better.

>> If it were in the hands of someone who actually carecd about it, could it be
>> made to run?

> The "never run again" comes from the DEC service engineer. He told the
> Kiel official people (and me) that it would be possible (if the docs and
> cables etc. were still there, of course) to get the system back to work.
> But for that he would need at least one year of work (3 month to move
> the system from one building to another, with 4 people!!). He is sure
> that nobody else would be able to get it running. And he is not
> interested to do it as there also is no interest and money to get the
> system running again. So it will be there, nice and clean. And never run
> again.

Have a look at the story of the 2065 restoration on the PDPplanet site.
(Yes, the site is out of date, and we're rebranding in short order, but
that part will move into the new site.)  We even had former DEC FS engineers
working with us on several portions of the project.

> Hopefully the guys who got the major part of the system will be
> interested and skilled enough to get their stuff working. That would be
> a resurrection of great historic value!

Indeed it would.  I hope that it actually happens.

> Best wishes,
> Philipp

Mit freundlichen grüßen,

Rich Alderson
Vintage Computing Server Engineer
Vulcan, Inc.
505 5th Avenue S, Suite 900
Seattle, WA 98104

mailto:RichA at
mailto:RichA at

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