For this meeting I'm happy to announce that Bjørn Hell Larsen will be presenting on the history of and technology behind the PDP-10.
I've suggested a date and time, but those can be changed if they're bad for a lot of folks. Let me know. I'll arrange the venue as the meeting gets closer.
About the talk
This is intended to be 1 hour of computer archaeology. In the early eighties I spent some years maintaining the system software (operating system, compilers etc) of the DEC-10 at the University of Oslo. The presentation will discuss the PDP-10 hardware platform, the TOPS-10 operating system and the programming languages and software development tools available there. A live demo will be made using a PDP-10 emulator.
Why be interested in the PDP-10? These days mainstream developers seems to think of programming as something that began with Unix, C and libc and evolved from there. I offer a glimpse into a not so distant past where none of these things were known or available.
The DEC-10 and related computer systems are not much remembered these days, but a lot of things that formed the computing world as we know it today happened on these machines. A few examples:
- When Bill Gates and Paul Allen made their first BASIC interpreter they did so on a DEC-10 at Harvard
- MS-DOS (and by extension Windows) contains a weird amalgam of TOPS-10 and Unix commands and conventions
- The first Multi User Dungeon (MUD) was developed on a DEC-10 at the University of Essex (and much sleep was lost)
- The EMACS editor was first created by Richard Stallman on a ITS-10 system at MIT