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.