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This mini forum is intended to provide a simple means of discussion about the Imlac PDS-1 computer. If you want to share your own experience or memories, or add relevant information about this system: post a message!

  Click Here to add a message in the forum


Saturday 23rd April 2011
Gary Paresky (Massachusetts/USA)

I used to work at Imlac in Needham, MA back in 1975. I was an electronic assembler/tester and built the CRT monitors and light pens. I remember getting a -1450 volt shock from a defective light pen! We used to make 100 foot cables by pulling the wire bundles through a shrink wrap tube. We used talcum powder to help get the cables pulled through!

Monday 14th October 2019
David Bakin (USA)
Bakin''s Bits

I used the Harvey Mudd College PDS-1 from 1973-1977 - I was the main user of it as I was on it all the time when I should have been studying math. Wrote, for a professor, a program to allow building pictures of Maya glyphs - dragging them from a menu to a nested grid with the light pen (then printing them for his publications.)

CPU instruction set was a "stretched" PDP-8 - stretched from 12-bit to 16-bit, a B accumulator added to the A accumulator, and more post- and new pre-indirect-increment addresses.

"GPU" shared cycles with the CPU - only one or the other ran - and had an instruction set that looked like a "display list". So I wrote an implementation of the brand new SIGGRAPH Core Graphics System for it.

Got me my first job out of HMC too! Went to work in 1976 for Honeywell Marine Systems Division which was delivering the PDS-1 as the instructor''s console in a multi-computer multi-student Navy sonar training facility. Wrote the program that drove the console - the teacher would set up ships with their speeds and routes and other ocean noises (whales, etc.) - as a scenario for the students to work.

Saturday 3rd June 2017
Bob Rasmussen (Maryland, United States)

In 1972 I was assigned to develop a process to proofread text destined for composition on a Photon 713. This was a phototypesetting process that used Friden keyboards producing paper tape from manuscript. The PDS1 system was to be used to proofread text without first running the tape on the Photon 713 projected onto photosensitive film. Our PDS1 system consisted of the display, keyboard, additional keyboard, AB Dick printer with embedded 7" flat faced monitor projecting text to electrostatic paper and paper tape reader/writer. We designed 1,300 unique characters to match shape and spacing of Times Roman medium, italic, bold and bold italic font as well as the 4 faces of the Univers Medium font. The process was a complete success except for the inability of the AB Dick copier to keep the toner solution fully mixed. The system was the equivalent of desktop displays currently available back in ''72.

Monday 6th June 2016
Stephen J. Kelsey (Salt Lake City, Utah)

I had a personal Imlac PDS-1 at the University of Utah for the graphics of the fluid mechanics calculations I was doing in the early 70''s. It seemed to work pretty well. Lots of curve drawings using 5th order spline functions, sending stuff to UCLA and getting it back over the Arpanet. Isometric and contour plots. Lots of interesting people were working there then$$Dave Evans, Ivan Sutherland, and Tom Stockham. I was with the Divispon of Artificial Organs with Harvey Greenfield and Dr. Willem Kolff, inventor of the artiificial kidney and a founder of ASAIO. I feel blessed to have been there then.

Tuesday 22nd March 2016

When I was in kindergarten my school used this system for the library. When you would check out a book or return a book the librarian would use the light pen to scan the barcode and scan the screen. To me at the time I thought that was really neat and was envy for the bigger screen since my Apple // had a very small display.

Thursday 3rd January 2013
Bill Finley

Founded by a brilliant MIT grad, Jim Cunningham, Imlac was on the cutting edge of graphics in the ''70''s. Interesting sidelight in view of current politics, angel financing was provided by the Koch brothers. I was National Sales Mgr. at that time.

Thursday 22nd September 2011
fabio (italy)

I worked as Field Engineer for the Gerber Garment Technology (in 1982) that acquired from Hughes Aircraft the AM1 System which was an Advanced Cad Cam system. They were using the Imlac pds4 ....even if I knew there was some Imlac pds 2 around the old clients...

The system expanded to the IMLAC PdsII a smaller graphic system (all included in the monitor!) that was a full 64k ram video for 2048x2048 lines in 16 intensity (of green) color...

Please find here 2 pics of the last time it was shown VCF Italy 2004 in Desenzano del GARDA$1422742061403$set$a.1185163042076.29590.1618264378$type$1 (Super condensed system..Imlac II is just the "monitor" )$1289357366869$set$a.1185163042076.29590.1618264378$type$1 (close up image...of a Garment marker)

(I''m the Secretary..temporary Curator of Mupin a Computer Museum near Torino, Italy)

Associazione Culturale "Museo Piemontese dell''Informatica - Mupin"
Strada Carignano, 48
10024 - Moncalieri (TO)
Mobile: +39 348 5930067

( yes it''s all in italian now..but we are redoing it.....!And yes i got (few!) Imlacs and schematics too... $-D )

Or write me direct at: ($$$this you can show!)

Take care! Fabio

Saturday 3rd September 2011
Jim Bailey (USA)

I used the Imlac PDS system at the University of Illinois while we were developing the Arpanet, predecessor of the Internet. It had great graphic capabilities for the day and was instrumental in the further development of computer graphics systems.

Wednesday 3rd November 2010

The imlac pds 1 was about the size of a desk,with a control panal sitting next to the user input console. Oddly enough it didn''t use a mouse,it used an early form of the light pen. There was also a pds-4 too.

Wednesday 1st September 2010
sark (mainframe)

the screen looks kind of like one of the xerox systems. you know, from bell labs.

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