The DEC PDP-8 computer, introduced 30 years ago on March 22, 1965, is
generally recognized as the most important small computer of the 1960's.
It was the least expensive parallel general purpose computer on the market,
the first computer sold on a retail basis, and the first parallel general
purpose digital computer sold in a table-top configuration.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
General information about the PDP-8 family of machines is contained
in the general FAQ.
Specific information about each PDP-8 model is contained
in the alt.sys.pdp8 models and options FAQ. Taken together, this information
constitutes a fairly complete history of the PDP-8; this is available from
any of the following:
Ohio State WWW site (recommended)
UNC PDP-8 FTP archive (plain text and out of date)
Programmer's Reference Material
A modern manual (under construction):
Programmer's Reference Manual for the PDP-8
The pocket referencence cards listed below are reproductions of original
DEC documentation distributed with the PDP-8:
original 1965 reference card
revised 1967 reference card
1974 PDP-8/E reference card
The following documents are reproductions of original DEC documentation:
the original 1969 booklet and the UW FOCAL manual
- Other original
Hardware Reference Material
- straight 8
Odds and Ends
- My PDP-8
used by Digital Equipment Corporation
- A largely PAL-8
compatable cross assembler,
Written in C, it is quite portable, and it produces either RIM or BIN
- An enhanced
PAL-8 assembler is also available. This enhancement was written by
Gary Messenbrink to support BART's fleet of PDP-8 systems.
- A UNIX
based PDP-8 emulator; this can be built for either X-Windows or
dumb terminals. It is written in C, and it has been run under AIX,
Solaris, and BSD UNIX, Linux and the Windows NT Posix environment.
It has been tested under OS/8 running from an emulated RX01 diskette.
Documentation of this emulator's
collection of PDP-8 core images for the above emulator. Includes
the RIM and BIN loaders (with source), FOCAL 1969, and RX01 bootstrap
- an image
of OS/8 Version 3Q on 2 RX01 diskettes bootable under the above emulator.
Includes PAL8, DIRECT, PIP, EDIT, TECO, BASIC, F4 and more! (Note: As of
Aug. 13, 1996, thanks to Bob Supnik, this is distributed with a free
non-commercial use licence from DEC.)
the well known file transfer tool, a version for OS/8 mostly by Charles Lasner.
As of January 2003, the
official Kermit web site
now supports the PDP-8 family of machines.
- A UNIX
based PDP-8 emulator for X-Windows, written in Modula-3 and tested
notes are available.
Parse Software Devices Museum
has a disassembler that can help reconstruct source code from RIM and BIN
formatted paper tapes.
- Notes on the History of the PDP-8
WWW pages organized by others
Charles Babbage Institute; a scholarly institution devoted to the
history of computing.
- The Computer Museum
History Center. While the original Computer Museum in Boston has
gotten very much into computer literacy and touchy-feely displays on the
innards of modern PCs, their excellent work on historical preservation has
been taken up by this west-coast branch.
- The Computer History Association
of California; devoted to preserving the history of California's computer
- The Digital Alumni Inc,
an alumni association for those who once worked at DEC.
- The DFWLUG DECUS PDP-8/E;
good photos of a nicely maintained PDP-8/E system in north Texas.
- The Retro-Computing Society
of Rhode Island; an informal association to further the preservation of
vintage computers in southeastern New England.
- The American Computer Museum
of Bozeman, Montana.
- The Historical Computer
Society; their collection is currently limited to microcomputers, but
their magazine, Historically Brewed, is promising but, so far, published
- Paul Pierce's collection;
his computer collection is huge, including everything from first generation
mainframes to microcomputers, and his web pages include are on-line photos
of many of his machines, including representative PDP-8 models.
- Jay Jaeger's
computer collection; a large collection with on-line photos
of many nicely configured machines, including a PDP-8/L and a PDP-12, as
well as related minicomputers from other manufacturers such as Data General
and Hewlett Packard.
- Jim's Computer
Garage, run by Jim Willing. The minicomputer section includes an
8/I, 8/E and 8/M, with excellent photos and descriptions, including some
internal details. The peripherals section includes a number of classic
DEC peripherals, including the RK-05 hard drive, RX-02 floppy drive (with
good photos of the internals) and the TU-55 and TU-56 DECtape drives..
- PDP8.COM John Bradatanu's commercial
venture in minicomputer restoration and maintenance. The
writeup on the PDP-8/S
includes a great quote from Saul Dinman about how the machine came to be and
a photo of the original laboratory prototype Dinman built. There is also a
good illustrated narative
description of the restoration process for 8/S serial number 566.
Robert Krten's computer collection also known as the
Parse Software Devices Museum, is dominated by PDP-8 and PDP-11 equipment.
He has a nice page documenting the effort required to restore a PDP-8/I
to working order.
- Dan Mathias's
collection is interesting, mostly microcomputers, but also a PDP-8/m, each
item documented with a photo and minimal text.
- Aaron's PDP-8 Page;
Aaron Nabil's PDP-8 collection catalog. Aaron has been an important resource
for PDP-8 collectors, but his web pages are not extensive.
- Varga Akos Endre's
collection is heavy on PDP-11 and VAX systems, but has interesting
coverage of Hungarian clones from the cold war era, including some
documentation for the TPA series of PDP-8, PDP-11 and VAX clones.
- Bob's Computer
Museum; Bob Manners has a growing collection, including a PDP-8/E; most of
the photo illustrations are scanned in from PDP-8 handbooks.
- Carl Friend's
Minicomputer Museum; focuses on PDP-11 and Data General equipment, and
has on-line photos of many machines and peripherals.
- Eric Smith's
collection; a balanced collection including 4 machines from the PDP-8
- Anthony Clifton's collecstion
(and small business); heavy on microcomputers, but moving into bigger
The Virtual Museum of Computing (Oxford, UK); this is a serious attempt
at creating an on-line museum, combining material created at Oxford with
material available on the web.
- The Computer Culture
Museum (Germany); as with the above, this is a serious attempt
to build an on-line (and physical) museum of computing.
- Megan Gentry's home page;
this includes links to information on many DEC computers and sources
for Robert Supnik's emulators for many DEC computers.