On May 30, Chris Osborn alerted me on Twitter about a Reddit post announcing a Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) PDP-11/34A computer system available for free in Indio, CA, about an hour and a half away from where I live. That sounded right up my alley, so I contacted the owner to see if I might be the lucky guy to adopt it.
Digital Equipment Corporation computers.
Retrochallenge 2016/10 Update
I sure picked an impossibly huge project for Retrochallenge! There’s no chance of finishing the whole project during the month of Retrochallenge, but I’ve made a good start.
Retrochallenge 2016/10: Convert a DEC RL02 into a Ginormous USB Hard Drive
I have decided to participate in Retrochallenge 2016/10, which is pretty much an excuse to spend the month of October working on a retrocomputing project. Ok, let’s be serious: That doesn’t really make October much different than the preceding or following months for a lot of us retrocomputing enthusiasts. But this month, it’s official!
I’m taking on an ambitious project which will almost certainly remain unfinished at the end of the month: Converting a DEC RL02 into a ginormous USB hard drive, so I can use it for imaging and writing RL02 packs!
What’s In the Box?
I haven’t posted in a while, so here are a few pictures of a big crate that I picked up at a nearby truck freight terminal last night.
I’ve wanted a VAX-11 system for a while, and now I have one! I bought this VAX-11/730 system from a seller in Wisconsin on eBay. It includes 4M RAM, an R80 fixed hard drive, and RL02 10M removable pack platter hard drive, and a TU80 tape drive. The CPU cabinet also includes a couple of TU58 DECtape II drive; one on the front panel, and the other on the right side of the CPU cabinet, accessible when it’s slid out of the rack.
Back in February, I was contacted by somebody who found my web page and thought I might be interested in some old computers in his company’s basement. The company turned out to be in Culver City, within reasonable driving distance from my home in Riverside, and I ended up purchasing both of the computers. One is a Data General Nova 3, installed in a rack cabinet with a hard disk drive that has one fixed platter and one removable platter. The other is a Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) PDP-11V03-L, which is a combination of a PDP-11/03 and an RX02 dual 8" floppy drive mounted in a short rack cabinet.
Look at what UPS Brought Me Today!
Fresh off the truck comes this exciting eBay find: A Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) PDP-8/M! According to the seller, this particular machine originally controlled some sort of industrial sewing machine. The board numbers tell me that it should have 8192 words (12 bits each) of core memory. I’ll mate it up with my recently-acquired Teletype Model 33 ASR (commonly but incorrectly called an "ASR-33") which will provide a printing terminal with low-speed paper tape reader and punch.
PDP-11/44 Front Panel Variants
In my pile of PDP-11/44 chassis, I noticed that one of their front panels is different from the others. Its metal backing wraps around the edges of the plastic panel, and it has "-01" added to the end of its part number. I wonder why this design change was made?
Here are some pictures of a Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) VT240 terminal with a VR201-C amber monochrome monitor. It’s just about to be sent away as part of a trade deal. I’m posting the pictures here to show them to the collector who I’m trading with, and then I’m leaving them here because there’s always room for more pictures of cool old computer equipment on the Internet. I took the pictures on the tailgate of my truck because it was the only free spot I could find to set the terminal down. :)
DEC RL02 Drives
Here are some pictures of my new heap of old Digital Equipment Corporation RL02 hard disk drives. They store 10 megabytes on a removable 14 inch platter. I’ll be using some of them in my PDP-11/44 project. I don’t have much to say at the moment… I’m mostly just posting these so I can refer to them in mailing list discussions.
I recently learned of a computer collector up in Santa Clara, CA who was moving to a new location, and who needed to get rid of a lot of his vintage computer equipment that he had in storage. He had already moved the good stuff that he was keeping, but he offered up piles of gear for free to anybody who would haul it away on some specific days. I didn’t want to drive up there myself at the time, but one of my friends at work suggested that one of his daughters and her boyfriend lived nearby in Tracy, and they might be willing to grab a truckload of equipment and bring it down south next time they drove back to visit him.
Everything all came together, and we met at a restaurant near my home on Saturday to transfer the loot. The haul consisted of four PDP-11/44 chassis and on ASR-33 teletype!