PDP-8/E

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Manufacturer Digital Equipment Corporation
Product family PDP-8
Generation 6th Generation
Release date 1970
Introductory price $6,500
Operating system OS/8

The PDP-8/e was a model of the PDP-8 line of minicomputers, designed by the Digital Equipment Corporation to be a general purpose computer that inexpensively met the needs of the average user while also being capable of modular expansion to meet the more specific needs of advanced user.[1] The first was built in 1970 and was among the first ever mini computers and this one was small enough to fit in the back seat of a Volkswagen Beetle Convertible.[2] It originally sold for $6,500 but after 18 months the price dropped to $4995 to make it the only computer under $5000 available at that time. [3]

Front view of the PDP-8/e from Digital Equipment Corporation. Currently on display at the Living Computer Museum in Seattle, Washington.

The standard -8/e included a processor, core memory, a data terminal, a tape control and drive, a programmers table, a line printer, software operating system and when purchased included installation, training and maintenance as part of the purchase agreement.[4]

Front panel with name of the PDP-8/e on display at the Living Computer Museum in Seattle, Washington.

The PDP-8/e featured a processor with single-address fixed word length, parallel transfer computer using 12-bit, two's complement arithmetic. The 1.2/1.4 microsecond cycle time provides a computation rate of 385,000 additions per second. It was built to be versatile and has a high capacity input/output that supports more than 60 types of peripherals.[1] It could be used for a variety of tasks, from keeping score at Fenway Park to monitoring stimuli to the brain during brain surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital. [5]

Basic system[edit]

The basic PDP-8/E system was a 10.5 x 19 x 24 inch [6] (6 rack unit) rackmount or table top unit that contained the processor, core memory, front panel controls ("programmer's console"), console terminal interface for use with an external data terminal, and 115 or 230 volt AC power supply.[7]

Peripherals[edit]

Processor Options[edit]

  • Extended Arithmetic Element - Enables the performance of complex arithmetic at high speeds
  • FPP-12 Floating Point Processor - Provides a dual-processor capability for faster calculations
  • Power Fail and Automatic Restart - Restores operation automatically after a power failure and protects the operating program
  • Real-Time Clocks - Programmable, line frequency, or crystal controlled intervals

Mass-Storage Devices[edit]

Display Devices[edit]

  • Video and Writing Tablets - Alphanumeric and graphic display point-plot displays; light pens; telephone line transmission
  • Hard-Copy Devices - incremental plotters; line printers with 64- or 96-characters sets, 165 characters per second or 356 lines per minute

Data-Communications Devices[edit]

  • Synchronous Communications - Modem interface for Bell 201- and 300-series modems or equivalent
  • Asynchronous Communications - Serial-line interface at various send/receive Baud rates; single or double buffered interfaces\
  • Automatic Calling Units - 10-Channel multiplexer

Laboratory Devices[edit]

  • Analog to Digital Converters
  • Digital to Analog Converters
  • Programmable Real-Time Clock
  • Digital I/O

Terminals[edit]

  • CRT and Data-Entry Terminals - Alphanumeric 16-character keyboards; standard telephone line transmission
  • Teletype Terminals - send and receive only; synchronous read and punch
  • Hard-Copy Terminals - Serial or parallel interfaces

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Digital Equipment Corporation (1971). PDP-8/E : Small Computer Handbook. University of California: Digital Equipment Corporation. p. 2–1.
  2. ^ "Exhibits - Living Computer Museum". www.livingcomputermuseum.org.
  3. ^ "PDP-8/E and PDP-8/M Computer Information". www.pdp8.net. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  4. ^ Newest Members of the Worlds most Popular Minicomputer Family. Maynard, Massachusetts: Digital Equipment Corporation. 1973.
  5. ^ "DEC's Blockbuster: The PDP-8 - CHM Revolution". www.computerhistory.org.
  6. ^ "PDP-8/E and PDP-8/M Computer Information". pdp8.net. Retrieved 2018-08-22.
  7. ^ PDP-8/E PDP-8/M & PDP-8/F Small Computer Handbook. Digital Equipment Corporation. 1973. p. 2-1, 2-3. Retrieved 2018-08-22.

External links[edit]