Computers of yesterday

When I first got into computers, Apple and Microsoft weren’t even companies.
Computers used to take up rooms (some buildings). I had the pleasure of working at a company called GenRad (formally General Radio) which used the Digital Equipment Corp’s PDP-8/E and PDP-8/A in their test systems. I got hooked on the PDP-8, which caused me to get a job at Digital Equipment Corp (DEC). I specialized in older machines like the original PDP-8 and the siblings PDP-8/S (it had a serial adder and a slow clock cycle), and the PDP-8/I, PDP-12 (a LINC/PDP-8 lab computer with real A/Ds).

The Living Computer Museum in Seattle, has a number of computers that I learned to program, or repair. What is funny, for 18 months in my early career, I was detached to Gordon and Gwen Bell’s Computer Museum project in DEC’s Marlboro facility and worked on getting the MIT TX0 (first transistorized computer. Google it) running, as well as a number of other DEC classic computers.

My good friend, David Brown, turned me on to this wonderful kit. It is essentially an emulated PDP-8/I (using a RaspberryPI) and a PDP-8/I replica control panel. I want to build this, and have it in my office. Why? Because .

Now call me an old git, if you like, but I can appreciate the new technology we have today, because I lived the stuff that got us here. I have been privileged to have worked in an industry where I got to learn from the masters, and got to play a key role in some of the modern computing technology of today. Something I never take for granted. When I see the FB app for IOS at 700mb in size and remember writing code that had to fit into 128 12 bit words of memory, I want people off my lawn.

Anyway, I should write a book of my adventures in computing. The title would be:

“Screw your JavaScript, we wrote operating systems in assembler for breakfast!”


“An Extraordinary Life in Computing”

The former title could be the subtitle.


Classic Jeeps

A lot of you who know me, know that I love the older Willys Overland Pickups and Wagons. I think they have a unique style and are built like tanks. I own a late model 1953 Willys Overland utility pickup truck.

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Which comes to my biggest complaint about these vehicles. People who modify them as street rods, or even wedge V8s in them. I personally feel it does a dis-service to the memory of these fine vehicles. As they were built, they were functional, solid utility vehicles. I drove one of these vehicles as a kid. My dad bought one off my uncle, and it was such a great truck. I bought my late model 1953 2 years ago. It was rough in many places, but the body seemed reasonable. In July of 2017, I sent the truck to Willys America in Cazadera, Ca. Paul and his team, there, take these poor neglected vehicles, and makes them look like they are new. Paul and his team have been working on mine. They pulled the engine, rebuilt the engine from the ground up, balanced, blueprinted, etc. (I have the F4-134 75HP 4 cyl.) They also converted the vehicle to 12Volts, put in a new wiring harness, new gas tank/sending unit, added an overdrive, so the truck can go over 45 MPH, and are fixing the Wind shield, repairing and balancing the drive shaft and a firewall blanket. So, some  small cosmetic changes. The picture, below left, was how the center dash looked when I sent it. The right picture is what it looks like now.

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Also, these are real jeeps. Jeeps made by the inventor of the Jeep. Remember, in the late 50s, Willys Overland was sold to Kaiser Motors. In the 60s, Jeep was sold to America Motors, and then was sold to Chrysler motors, who have take the Jeep brand and perverted it into something it is not. Only the current Wranglers have any connection to the Jeeps of old. I should be getting this vehicle back from Paul and his team in April. I will enjoy driving this around the area. If you see me around, wave hi.