A Bit of History

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by MaxHeadRoom, Jan 8, 2014.

  1. MaxHeadRoom

    Thread Starter Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
    huang, DerStrom8, PackratKing and 3 others like this.
  2. MikeML

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 2, 2009
    First computer I used like we use microcontrollers today(Arduinos, etc) was a PDP8 with 4K of Ram and two mini-tape drives. It was a data aquisition system used in hospital operating rooms. I transported it all around the country on commercial airlines (727s).
  3. MaxHeadRoom

    Thread Starter Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
    I wish I had hung on to the old PDP stuff I had, on the old magnetic core memory card, you could actually SEE one BIT of memory!!
  4. djsfantasi

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 11, 2010
    I remember the old core memory planes, too. I first played on one of the earliest PDP computers; 1 or 2? It had a round green CRT and we played Asteroids loaded from DECTape.
    I also programmed on an IBM 1130 with 4k memory, punched cards and a modified Selectric for its output device.
  5. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
    My first computer was also a PDP, an 8L with I believe a whopping 16K of core memory. It ran 4 teletype terminals, 3 of them remotely over "acoustic" modems.

    An acoustic modem is a place to stick an old school POTS phone receiver so it's microphone and speaker can work the phone. This was before AT&T let anyone just connect anything to their equipment.
  6. MaxHeadRoom

    Thread Starter Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
    One of my first forays into CNC control was a CNC single axis boring machine that someone I believe at Minnesota Univ. had written and adapted from a data processing PDP8, the memory had to be reloaded via a Punched tape teletype.
    Every time some welding occurred in the area, the memory was wiped.
  7. BillB3857

    Senior Member

    Feb 28, 2009
    That was a very advanced machine compared to one of the first I worked on. It had modified telephone cross-bar data storage. Friden punched tape readers supplied the input. Input was in Tab Sequential format. We techs carried a short section of tape in our tool box with TAB, 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,EL punched so we could do manual data entry one character at a time. The control was a GE Mark II running a Milwaukee-Matic.
    I always thought it was so amazing to watch that machine drill, then tap 4-40 holes in a movie camera housing used on the F-4 aircraft.
  8. alfacliff

    Well-Known Member

    Dec 13, 2013
    when I started for NCR in the late 70's we were scrapping pdp8's used for automated test systems. when I started for boeing in 86, we were still using pdp8's for nc controls. some of the machine tool makers used single board pdp11's as numerical controlls. there were a lot of pdp11's used around here in the engineering labs and for bookeeping too. most have been changed out along with the vax's for newer stuff now. we had a cray xmp2 here for a while, but somebody forgot to buy the operating system, so it was moved to seattle with the other 2. most of the machine tool computers are now pc derived, either a custom box, or just a pc running the machines.
  9. MaxHeadRoom

    Thread Starter Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
    On a side note, in the early days of P.C.'s when Bill Gates instigated the first edition of Windows, a lot of P.C.'s although technically superior went the way of the Dodo.
    Heath-Zenith Z-100 for e.g.
    Another at the time was a PC with a Unix based operating system that did not fly, mainly because of limited software and cost, but very nice to use.
    Due to US anti-dumping laws, they were available in Canada for 10¢ on the $.
    The 'Technically Superior' does not always rise to the top.
    Ala Sony BetaMax.:(
  10. Papabravo


    Feb 24, 2006
    My first computer was a piece of "Big Iron". An IBM 7090 with an IBM 1410 controlling the card reader, a dozen 729 MkII Tape Drives, and an IBM 1103, 600 lpm line-printer. It ha a whopping 32K of 36-bit words of memory. It belonged to Princeton University and was paid for by the Air Force, but I had access. Learned FORTAN and FAP Assembler programming on it.

    Gettin' all misty here.