Presentation: The PDP-10: Computer Archaeology!

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

 

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  • Austin B.

    Does anyone have a video camera they could bring to film the presentation? Some people who can't make it have asked if we could record it, and it would be nice to have in any event.

    1 · January 15, 2013

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