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Thread: Where would a PDP 11 or 8 be used when it was still relevant

  1. #21


    Our company provided hardware maintenance to many commercial and government applications in 70's
    PDP-8/E system and software that did time scheduling for TV stations
    Personal favorite, a PDP-8/E that "ran" the scoreboard at Atlanta Stadium. An RK05 disk had most of the animations used in those days. I even got my name in lights on the scoreboard at the end of a Braves game.
    PDP-11/44 ran an automated warehouse for a Fortune 50 computer peripheral manufacturer, plus many 11/34's doing PCB layout, and various manufacturing process control systems. Even an 11/34 running MUMPS that supported the corporate health department.
    More MUMPS systems, a diagnostic medical lab, a clone of the VA Vista system at IHS, visits to the innards of a Nuclear Power plant, lots of university applications
    The first TDRSS ground station in the US had a room full of 11/70 and a gazillion RMxx drives.

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Nov 2014


    Quote Originally Posted by antiquekid3 View Post
    My PDP-8/E came from a cleanroom running a step and repeat camera. The 8/M I have came from a blood chemistry analysis system. My 11/45 is from a hospital, not sure for what application. My 11/73 ran an EKG server to share results via the phone line.
    Marquette Electronics sold systems that used 11's for ECG/EKG acquisition (from mobile carts), storage and interpretation. It was called MUSE and the current version is sold by GE Healthcare.

    It that the one you have?

  3. #23


    Quote Originally Posted by Nick7928 View Post
    Hey everyone, my question is as written above, where would one use such a system back in its days of relevance and usefulness.
    Thanks everyone!
    I just found an 11/73 complete with TD SCSI board from an old Electron Microscope that was salvaged. Never would have known from the outside. It was buried inside among all the proprietary boards.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Silicon Valley USA
    Blog Entries


    BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) used a large number of PDP-8e's to run the passenger info train destination signs in the stations.

    Per the 'palbart' (a version of PAL written by the BART folks) manual page:

    This assembler was written to support the fleet of PDP-8 systems  used  by  the  Bay  Area
           Rapid  Transit  System.   As of early 1997, this includes about 40 PDP-8/E systems driving
           the train destination signs in passenger stations.

    My PDP-8m came from a retired CNC machine used in Florida. The hardware is physically in perfect condition and runs error free (16K core with EAE, RX01).


  5. #25


    I wasn't allowed to salvage the complete system for...reasons, apparently, or so the recycle center told me, but the bits that turned my 11/23 into an 11/73 and maxed out the memory came from a mass-spectrometer system that I believe belonged to the Minnesota branch of the EPA. (Still have the controller board!) The 11/23 itself, I think, was originally a small-office computer, but I've never dug around in the files on the hard drive enough to have a really good idea as to what.
    Computers: Amiga 1200, DEC VAXStation 4000/60, DEC MicroPDP-11/73
    Synthesizers: Roland JX-10/SH-09/MT-32/D-50, Yamaha DX7-II/V50/TX7/TG33/FB-01, Korg MS-20 Mini/ARP Odyssey/DW-8000/X5DR, Ensoniq SQ-80, E-mu Proteus/2, Moog Satellite, Oberheim SEM
    "'Legacy code' often differs from its suggested alternative by actually working and scaling." - Bjarne Stroustrup

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    NorthWest England (East Pondia)
    Blog Entries


    Well PDP-8 and PDP11 were used for just about every conceivable purpose where you needed a computer. They had a standardised published BUS (OMNIBUS and UNIBUS) so it was easy to add cards. When I worked in the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) (UK). Try googling "NERC" PDP-11 for some ideas.

    They were also used in the commercial world. In the UK at least one bank used them as "Branch Controllers" to link all the terminals. There is a Maintenance guide for these here:-

    In the early days "Dr. Dave Clarke" used a PDP-8 to pass real time medical data to an IBM 7090....
    ... sorry I can only find an Abstract

    Looking for Analog Computers, Drum Plotters, and Graphics Terminals

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Blog Entries


    The FOX 2 (rebadged PDP-11/15) I recovered on a road trip three years ago was running the oxygen plant fire prevention system at the BHP steelworks, Port Kembla, Australia from I gather about 1973 to the late 70s perhaps early 80s.

    I like to think of its provenance in terms of all the australian-made items it had a hand in producing - cars, washing machines, buildings, bridges, fences, ships, roofs, machinery and who knows what other thousands of tons of steel for products in that era.
    Last edited by 1944GPW; April 16th, 2019 at 01:10 AM.

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Rhode Island


    I have two PDP-8/e systems that were used to run spectrometers. There were full of special interface boards for the controls and sensors.
    Member of the Rhode Island Computer Museum

  9. #29


    I've heard from a family friend that works at Texas Instruments that they still have PDP 11's running parts of their chip fabrication facilities. Apparently they replaced one of their *newer* models a few years ago, with a manufacture date of 1986.
    TI also used to have TI 990 minicomputers running large portions of their facilities, but those have been phased out.

  10. #30
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Liverpool, England


    I missed one from my post reply and it is to late to edit,

    CardKey. card swipe building access systems, seen quite a few over the years. Mainly 11/73 in a Dyna Five enclosure.

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