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sl8

(15,193 posts)
Thu Jun 6, 2024, 07:26 AM Jun 6

SpaceWar is back! Rebuilding the world's first gaming computer

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/article/2024/jun/06/reinventing-the-pdp-10

SpaceWar is back! Rebuilding the world’s first gaming computer
A large team of tech nostalgia enthusiasts have made a PiDP-10, a replica of the PDP-10 mainframe computer first launched by the Digital Equipment Corporation in 1966

Keith Stuart
Thu 6 Jun 2024 06.45 EDT

On my desk right now, sitting beside my ultra-modern gaming PC, there is a strange device resembling the spaceship control panel from a 1970s sci-fi movie. It has no keyboard, no monitor, just several neat lines of coloured switches below a cascade of flashing lights. If you thought the recent spate of retro video game consoles such as the Mini SNES and the Mega Drive Mini was a surprising development in tech nostalgia, meet the PiDP-10, a 2:3 scale replica of the PDP-10 mainframe computer first launched by the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in 1966. Designed and built by an international group of computer enthusiasts known as Obsolescence Guaranteed, it is a thing of beauty.

The origins of the project go back to 2015. Oscar Vermeulen, a Dutch economist and lifelong computer collector, wanted to build a single replica of a PDP-8 mainframe, a machine he had been obsessed with since childhood. “I had a Commodore 64 and proudly showed it to a friend of my father’s,” he says. “He just sniffed and said the Commodore was a toy. A real computer was a PDP, specifically a PDP-8. So I started looking for discarded PDP-8 computers, but never found one. They are collectors’ items now, extremely expensive and almost always broken. So I decided to make a replica for myself.”

As something of a perfectionist, Vermeulen decided he needed a professionally made front panel cover. “The company that could make it told me I would need to pay for a whole sheet of four square meters of Perspex, enough for 50 of these panels,” he says. “So I made 49 extra, thinking I would find 49 fellow idiots. I had no idea that in the years after I would be making thousands at my dinner table.”

At the same time, Vermeulen began posting on various vintage computing groups on Google Groups where people were already working on software emulators of pre-microprocessor computers. As word about his replica spread, it very quickly became a group activity, and now more than 100 people are involved. While Vermeulen concentrates on designing the hardware reproduction – the front panel with its working switches and lights – others are handling various aspects of the open-source software emulation, which has a complex history. At its core is SIMH, created by ex-DEC employee and megastar hacker Bob Supnik, which emulates a range of classic computers. This was later modified by Richard Cornwell and Lars Brinkhoff adding to the driver support for the PDP-10’s ITS operating system and other Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) projects. There were many other people involved along the way, some collecting and preserving old backup tapes, others adding refinements and debugging, or providing documents and schematics.

[...]



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Oscar's new PDP-10 replica (and PDP-8 and PDP-11 too)

CuriousMarc
May 31 2024

Oscar Vermeulen is well-known for his highly accurate, ⅔ scale replicas of DEC's popular PDP computers. Here he shows off the newest member of the family, the PiDP-10, which gets us to retrace the history of MIT's AI lab and the Incompatible Timesharing System.

[ many links at Youtube ]


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SpaceWar is back! Rebuilding the world's first gaming computer (Original Post) sl8 Jun 6 OP
After my parents passed about 5 years ago I had the daunting task of removing a gazillion samnsara Jun 6 #1
Most of the computers I've ever used are emulated on my Linux desktop. hunter Jun 8 #2

samnsara

(17,860 posts)
1. After my parents passed about 5 years ago I had the daunting task of removing a gazillion
Thu Jun 6, 2024, 07:31 AM
Jun 6

..year of stuff. Mom never tossed anything away..she just put it back in its original packaging and stored it. I found a Vic 20 and a Compu something and gave them to my son in law for his retro room..and an old used Atari.

hunter

(38,571 posts)
2. Most of the computers I've ever used are emulated on my Linux desktop.
Sat Jun 8, 2024, 12:36 AM
Jun 8

I never played with ITS, but had a lot of exposure to a similar culture on the West Coast. I think they let me hang out in the computer labs as a fool in the fool-proofing of BSD.

I'd build one of these PDP replicas tomorrow if I had any room for it in my mad scientist lab. As it is, I have too many actual "antique" computers. Virtual computers don't take up any space.

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