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This mini forum is intended to provide a simple means of discussion about the Open University, UK PT501 computer. If you want to share your own experience or memories, or add relevant information about this system: post a message! For other purposes like sales messages, hardware & software questions or information requests, please use our main forum.

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Monday 7th March 2011

Glad to have found this! My father had one of these when I was a kid, on loan from work.

My dad was an electrical engineer in middle management for British Telecom, he worked out of Electra House off the Strand during the 80s. Reading your description, the course title seems very appropriate! I think he was a member of the IEEE, which acted as his "union", and that it was them that had these Open University course materials for the career development of their members.

I think we had this board "on loan" for some time, and I''m not sure if it was ever returned. I''m sure he no longer has it, which is a shame, as I have nostalgia for it now.

The board came with a course book of some kind, which was a little smaller than A4 in size, as I recall, and under 1cm thick. It was possible for me as a bright 12 year old to work through several of the exercises.

Programming was extremely time consuming, though, as the board (obviously?) had no user-accessible persistent storage. Each time you used it you had to enter the program in assembler from scratch using the keypad. I don''t remember much more detail than that, but I think it was pretty arduous, and you had to go back to the beginning.

My memory is a little hazy after 25 years or so - there are elements shown in the photo that I don''t quite recall, and I thought I recalled a couple of rocker switches or something, for push-button input. I think the 8 x LED numbers in the middle were for displaying the instruction and register or operand and that the 2 x LED numbers top left could be user controlled. The traffic lights in the top right were certainly user programmable, by writing to some specified memory location.

The whole time I''ve been writing this comment I''ve been wondering what the jack plug at the top edge of the board was for. I was thinking to myself "surely it didn''t have audio!?!?" - this board was surely too primitive to do anything more than beep, if even that! But I''ve just realised that that socket must be for power, and that the board was powered off a wall-wart.

Tuesday 26th November 2013
roger baldwin (UK)

I have a PT501 in the original box with the manual, any idea what this would be worth? thanks

Saturday 30th March 2013

I used one of these too (when I was about 10!) I seem to recall this board also had a temperature sensor input. Didn''t do me any harm - I''m now a software engineer.

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