PDP-1 as minicomputer [was RE: OT - sort of]

William Donzelli wdonzelli at gmail.com
Tue Aug 17 20:34:12 CDT 2010

> At the University of Chicago, I was friends with the lead graduate student
> on the STEM (Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope), the one that made
> the IBM logo out of individual gold atoms.  Their graphics processor was
> a 4361--and they had no professional operations staff at all.  The grad
> students did the minimal amount to get it running, and that was all.

My 4331 came from a shop that was run by a couple of guys, and was
turned off every weekend when they went home. It ran for 25 years and
never had a service call. The IMPL diskette (the boot disk media)
finally wore out - wore thin from being read every Monday - so to boot
the machine, I need to do a song and dance act to fill in some dropped
bits. The 3830 disk control also has an IMPL floppy, and that still
works, but is well on its way out. That box also never broke down
while these guys ran it. The 3420 tape drives were quite reliable, but
towards the end, they had to replace hoses that were drying out. The
3350 disks were the most troublesome, but even there 5 of the 8
spindles are fine.

And the datacenter had a resident cat. It was not exactly the cleanest
computer space I have ever been in.


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