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D > DIGITAL EQUIPMENT CORPORATION > PDP-8   


Digital Equipment Corporation
PDP-8

The PDP-8 was the first sucessful commercial minicomputer, produced by DEC in the 60s, the first real minicomputer, and the first computer costing less than $20,000.

By late 1973 to 77, the PDP-8 family was the best selling computer in the world. The basic version could sit on a desktop rather than requiring cumbersome racks well known at the time. This compact size caused it to become a popular system in scientific laboratories.

The machine had a now quite strange 12-bit word and four thousand 12-bit words of magnetic core memory. The first model was built without any Integrated circuit - thus no microprocessor - but with discrete transistors mounted on numerous small printed circuit boards called 'flip chips' that were inserted on two backplanes mounted vertically. Both table-top and rack-mount models were available, but adding additional memory required a rack.

CPU was composed of 12 interlinked Register Boards each operating on one bit slice of the 12 bit word and containing an Adder function together with all the major registers - MB, MA, AC, PC. Speed a little less than 1MHz.

The instructions set of the PDP-8 was very limited, only eight basic instructions encoded by the three left bits of each 12-bit word, and one register, the accumulator: However, the PDP-8 could be programmed to do almost anything. It just took longer (sometimes very longer!) to execute programs.

A 110 baud current loop teletype interface allowed an ASR 33 Teletype to be connected, serving as a console as well as a storage device by means of the built-in papertape puncher and reader.

There were numerous variations of the original model over the years, among them:
1966: PDP-8/S - minimum price but slow memory serial logic design
1968: PDP-8/I - first version with integrated circuits
1970: PDP-8/E - New bus structure design called Omnibus
1975: PDP-8/A - Allowed OEMs choice of memory type and quantity

All together, about 50,000 PDP-8 series computers were sold, as well as numerous clones made USA, Asia and East European countries.
In 2000 year, there were still a few PDP8's in operation, mainly in third-world countries.

NAME  PDP-8
MANUFACTURER  Digital Equipment Corporation
TYPE  Professional Computer
ORIGIN  U.S.A.
YEAR  1965
END OF PRODUCTION  1980
BUILT IN LANGUAGE  None
KEYBOARD  ASR-33 Teletype
CPU  CPU was composed of 12 interlinked Register Boards
SPEED  1 MHz (0.5 MIPS)
RAM  4 K of 12 bit words
TEXT MODES  Depending of the terminal used
SIZE / WEIGHT  48 (W) x 55 (D) x 84 (H) cm. / 150 Kgs.
I/O PORTS  110 Baud serial interface
BUILT IN MEDIA  None
POWER SUPPLY  Built-in 780 Watts power supply unit
PERIPHERALS  Memory boards up to 32 Kwords
PRICE  $18.000 (Basic version)

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