Computer History Brought Back to Life

I found this article this morning. It is about Paul Allan's collecting a couple of old Digital Equipment PDP-10s and a PDP clone. The systems run a pair of operating systems called TOPS-10 and TOPS-20. For those of you who don't know, Paul Allan and Bill Gates learned how to program using a PDP-10. The PDP-10 was a huge mainframe computer. It had a pretty neat operating system for a command line system. In fact I would say that it had a much better command line interface than *NIX and Windows does today. Monad, coming from Microsoft, will be pretty cool but it is not there yet.

The PDP Planet web site lets people request an account so that they can TELNET in and use these systems. The web site also has pictures and historical information about these computers and other computers. My hope is that they add a PDP-11 running the RSTS/E operating system. That is the system I was part of the OS Dev team for a while.

In any case, I think that if I were teaching a course today that included a history component (and a lot of them should IMHO) that having an account of one of these systems would be pretty interesting. It would give students a look back into the past. I'm glad Paul Allan is doing something like this.

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