Reviving old computers

Doghouse – New/Old Computers

Article from Issue 255/2022

Computer architectures from the 1960s and 1970s are given new life via modern kits.

The first computer I programmed (or saw in real life and not on TV) was one that used punched cards. It had a fairly primitive "Disk Monitor System" that would allow storage of programs and data on a very small (by today's standards) disk.

I do not remember much about the machine because computers were really not my interest at the time. I was studying to be an electrical engineer, and during the cooperative education part of my program at Drexel University (née Institute of Technology) I took a course in "How to Program the IBM 1130 in FORTRAN" just for fun. And it was fun. But so were electronics.

I went back to Drexel and found another computer in the electrical engineering labs. It was a Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) PDP-8 computer, with 4,096 12-bit words of core memory. This computer was programmed through a terminal, the ASR-33 Teletype with a paper tape reader and punch. This was the machine I fell in love with, and I spent most of my waking hours (when I was not flunking out of electrical engineering [1]) programming it in assembly language.


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