Google, PDPs and OpenSolaris put readers to the test
Can you make it to the end?
Our biggest mistake with the story Microsoft founder opens PDP fetish site was a pretty fundamental one. The site isn't new. Many of you wrote in saying it has been around for awhile. We're not quite sure why Paul Allen's PR minions decided to issue a press release calling it new, but we fell for their trap.
Our second mistake, in some peoples' opinion, was celebrating the collection of a billionaire when the PDP collections of a few regular blokes are even better.
Enjoyed your article on pdpplanet - though it is rather 'old news', the site has been up for nearly a year AFAIK. Perhaps it's a relaunch.
When it comes to a collection of ancient computers, Mr. Allen (although his approach is very professional and doubtless well-funded) is a rank amateur. Have a look at my Corestore:
I suppose it's petty of me, but I think you shouldn't speak of "the PDP", because Digital produced many very different machines designated PDP-something, including families of 12-, 18-, 36-, and 16-bit machines ranging from desktop to room-sized.
And Paul Allen's pdpplanet web site has been up for quite a while.
... zo, no mention of pdp-11, cos then they'd've had to talk about ..... *nix ! Ha!
I was amused to see the related links at the bottom of the PDP article include one to Plasma Display Panels. Obviously the keyword matcher hasn't had enough history lessons top understand what a PDP really is.
Yeah . . . . keyword matcher. That's it.
I am amused to see the PDP referred to as an example of the inconvenience of early computing! You could use compiled or interpreted human readable languages such as Fortran and BASIC on them - surely an enormous step up from the programming of truly early machines like EDSAC (simulator at http://www.dcs.warwick.ac.uk/~edsac/). C, of course, was developed on them and for them. And compared with mainframes of the time (e.g. the IBM 360's JCL - a nightmare if ever there was one) they had a user friendly operating system - UNIX, for example? They had the potential for running real time graphic displays as well - the first PCs didn't (though this was soon rectified by companies like Hercules).
So I bowl over to the site you cite where Paul Allen gloats over where they flogged all the ideas for MS-DOS, drift to the blog of their system restoration product and trying to View All http://www.pdpplanet.com/TemplateRestoration.aspx?contentId=8 I'm greeted with
Server Error in '/' Application. Unable to validate data. Description: An unhandled exception occurred during the execution of the current web request. Please review the stack trace for more information about the error and where it originated in the code.
Exception Details: System.Web.HttpException: Unable to validate data.
An unhandled exception was generated during the execution of the current web request. Information regarding the origin and location of the exception can be identified using the exception stack trace below.
HttpException (0x80004005): Unable to validate data.] System.Web.Configuration.MachineKey.GetDecodedData(Byte buf, Byte modifier, Int32 start, Int32 length, Int32& dataLength) +195 System.Web.UI.LosFormatter.Deserialize(String input) +59
"The PDP stands as one of the great machines in computer and server history. It ignited a trend to put powerful computers in the hands of business of all sizes, instead of just government and corporate giants. It also freed up compute power to individuals."
It is also well known for being the first Unix platform. Unix was written on a PDP-7. See http://www.faqs.org/docs/artu/ch02s01.html.
No PDP, no Unix. No Unix, no Linux.
Is Paul Allen trying to tell us something here?
I just read your article on Paul Allen's PDP Planet site. It's actually be around for a while. As a matter of fact I've just shipped 2 VAX 11/785 systems to Paul from my shop. My company (Shiresoft) does antique computer restoration (I specialize in DEC). I have a fairly large collection of PDP-11's, PDP-8's and a KL-10 (in process of being restored).
My website (www.shiresoft.com) is a bit out of date as I've been busy shipping PDPs to other fanciers of "old iron".
Your news article on the PDP brought back fond memories from '82, when fresh out of college I'd joined up a (now defunct) computer training institute in Delhi to learn COBOL programming. We expanded the PDP C-130 the institute used in their coaching classes to "Please Don't Push" after a 'field trip' to their server room in the presence of a paranoid instructor. Great times!
There's also a lively PDP discussion happening over here.
On we go to OpenSolaris and Power.