Got a question....PDP? VAX?

From: Max Eskin <>
Date: Sun Mar 14 09:14:13 1999

On Fri, 12 Mar 1999, Jason Willgruber wrote:
>What I'm wondering, is what exactly is a PDP, or a VAX, or an Altair, or any
>of the other things that come up frequently on the list. Also - how is one
>of the computers (such as the Altair) operated, with all the switches and
>indicators? Is there a keyboard or a monitor with it?

The PDPs were DEC's series of processors. The PDP-8 and -11 were most
successful. The processors were used in a wide variety of machines. The
VAX is DEC's first 32-bit machine. It used an OS called VMS, which some
people like a lot for some reason, to the point of still using it. I heard
that NT has a lot of VMS engineers behind it. An Altair is an early 8-bit
machine based on the Intel 8080 processor. It used the S-100 bus and was
analogous to the IBM PC in what it did to the PC market. It usually came
as a kit and was poorly designed/unreliable. Although the Altair used some
medieval methods of programming, in later machines like the IMSAI, one
would generally use a dumb terminal and resort to the front panel for
debugging purposes. OK, now you may correct everything I said :)

--Max Eskin (
Received on Sun Mar 14 1999 - 09:14:13 GMT

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