[TUHS] Happy birthday, PDP-8!

Atindra Chaturvedi atindra at mindspring.com
Wed Mar 22 09:57:51 AEST 2017

Brings back memories...
Back in early 1981 I worked for a shipping line in Cranford NJ in their IT department. The company had just ordered 4 new super-wide cargo ships that just fit the Panama Canal and the Chief Marine Architect came to the IT department to ask for assistance in programming a PDP-8 to write a load distribution check program so that the ship would not keel over, or break in the middle - when being loaded 12 stack high containers. Had to take into account stress and strain - mathematical algorithms. My boss called me in to talk to him and he asked " if I knew how to determine the area under a curve..." - I knew my engineering math - Simpson's rule and also FORTRAN IV and was immediately drafted. What was needed also was a graphical way of entering the data, and displaying the results optionally graphically on the screen (tty ?). My friend Wayne Rawls knew BASIC - he wrote the front end - passed me the input on a large floppy - my FORTRAN IV program ran and did the stress/strain analysis for the ship - and I passed the output back to him on the floppy that he then displayed on-screen.
A lot of grinding of the floppy drives for the FORTRAN compiler - no spinning hard disks as the PDP-8 would be installed on-board ship - and in those days of A/C computer rooms would be a non-starter.
It all worked well - Wayne took the PDP-8 on a ship to Norfolk to get it checked out and the company used it for many years !


-----Original Message-----
>From: Dave Horsfall <dave at horsfall.org>
>Sent: Mar 21, 2017 5:34 PM
>To: The Eunuchs Hysterical Society <tuhs at tuhs.org>
>Subject: [TUHS] Happy birthday, PDP-8!
>OT, but of interest to a few people here :-)
>The venerable PDP-8 was introduced in 1965 today (or tomorrow if you're on 
>the wrong side of the date line).  It was the first computer I ever 
>used, back around 1970 (I think I'd just left school and was checking out 
>the local University's computer department, with a view to majoring in 
>Computer Science (which I did)).
>Dave Horsfall DTM (VK2KFU)  "Those who don't understand security will suffer."

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