[TUHS] [TUHS} PDP-11, Unix, octal?

Nelson H. F. Beebe beebe at math.utah.edu
Thu Jan 19 00:28:36 AEST 2017

On the subject of the PDP-10, I recall seeing people at a DECUS
meeting in the early 1980s wearing T-shirts that proclaimed

	I don't care what they say, 36 bits are here to say!

I also recall a funny advertizing video spoof at that meeting that
ended with the line

	At DIGITAL, we're building yesterday's tomorrow, today.

That meeting was about the time of the cancellation of the Jupiter
project at DEC that was planned to produce a substantially more
powerful follow-on to the KL-10 processor model of the PDP-10 (we had
two such at the UofUtah), disappointing most of its PDP-10 customers.

Some of the Jupiter technology was transferred to later VAX models,
but DEC never produced anything faster than the KL-10 in the 36-bit
line.  However, with microcomputers entering the market, and early
workstations from Apollo, LMI, Sun, and others, the economics of
computing changed dramatically, and departmental mainframes ceased to
be cost effective.

Besides our mainframe DEC-20/60 TOPS-20 system in the College of
Science, we also ran Wollongong BSD Unix on a VAX 750, and DEC VMS on
VAX 780 and 8600 models.  In 1987, we bought our first dozen Sun
workstations (and for far less than the cost of a DEC-20/60).

After 12 good years of service (and a forklift upgrade from a 20/40 to
a 20/60), our KL-10 was retired on 31-Oct-1990, and the VAX 8600 in
July 1991.  Our productivity increased significantly in the Unix

I wrote about memories and history and impact of the PDP-10 in two
keynote addresses at TUG meetings in articles and slides available at


- Nelson H. F. Beebe                    Tel: +1 801 581 5254                  -
- University of Utah                    FAX: +1 801 581 4148                  -
- Department of Mathematics, 110 LCB    Internet e-mail: beebe at math.utah.edu  -
- 155 S 1400 E RM 233                       beebe at acm.org  beebe at computer.org -
- Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0090, USA    URL: http://www.math.utah.edu/~beebe/ -

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