From: John Chris Wren <>
Date: Tue Mar 5 13:30:37 2002

        This sounds like a machine I used to work on. PDP-8/a, two floppy drives,
a VT-50 terminal that looked like it could have been provisioned for an
internal thermal printer, and ours had a LA-36. We ran two OS's in it,
COS-310 (which I wrote DIBOL under), and some other OS that was really
bizarre (it was a DEC product). It's single biggest claim to fame was that
no one could ever figure out how to do a directory of the disk. You either
knew what was out there, or you reformatted it.

        We used this system to process cassette tapes written by a box attached to
copy machines. It was one of the first copy counting control systems, and
we sold a bunch into law firms. Prior to the system going in, the firm may
bill as much as 90% of it's copying cost to internal budgets. With our
system, the legal aide or lawyer entered an account number into a calculator
like keypad, then made copies. Either after a time out, or a new account
number being entered, the date, time, account number, and number of copies
made was written to the tape.

        My job, at the time, was to take the tapes, read them on a cassette reading
into this funky OS on the PDP-8/a, which wrote them as files to the disk,
then reboot the system into COS-310, and process the data on the data disk.
After a few months of working there, I started modifying the processing code
to run a little faster, print pretty banners on the front page for the 3
letter client abbreviation (got a $1000 bonus from that. Looked a lot less
tacky than using a thick black magic marker).

        I also made a few changes to the tape read app, which taught PDP-8

        It was pretty neat, at the time. I don't miss it at all.


> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> []On Behalf Of Ethan Dicks
> Sent: Tuesday, March 05, 2002 13:41 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: DECdatasystems
> --- Gunther Schadow <> wrote:
> > Don't know if it means any to you, but I have a PDP-8/A under the
> > DECdatasystems label.
> I have something similar - a PDP-8/a in a desk (as pictured on the front
> of the 1976-1977 minicomputer handbook) with a black-fronted RX01
> drive and, ISTR, "DECdatasystems 310" label (could have mis-remembered
> the number, though).
> I would tend to agree with other posters in this thread, that the
> datasystems line was prepackaged and ready to drop-ship to the customer,
> as opposed to the more traditional sales where you could order a PDP
> a-la-carte.
> I'm sure price and age have something to do with it as well... once a
> system became mature, there were fewer varieties demanded by the
> marketplace, so, DEC created a "one size fits most" package to make it
> easier to show your pointy-haired boss and get approval for.
> -ethan
> __________________________________________________
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Received on Tue Mar 05 2002 - 13:30:37 GMT

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