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PDP-7 at the University of Oregon
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Posted 1/24/2006 5:59 PM
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PDP-7 at the University of Oregon in Eugene

Last week William Maddox visited our laboratory in the Physics Department to see our PDP-7 computer. He suggested that ours is the last running PDP-7 in the world and that it's existence should be reported to pdpplanet.com.

The PDP-7 arrived in Eugene almost exactly 40 years ago. It came with an 8k core memory. Two years later a second bank of 8k was added. Many interfaces to laboratory equipment were added over the years, and these were useful enough and reliable enough that we kept the computer in operation. It's hour meter indicates 60000 plus hours.

The software was upgraded and the 7 now runs under the KM9-15 moniter. The peripherals mostly still run with some coaxing. The rubber armature of the paper tape reader failed with age and now runs with a piece of rubber hose - flakey. The paper punch runs. The dual dec-tape reads and writes in the forward direction when up to speed but the tapes rock after a reverse search or a short forward search. The dec-tape handler is the one in the advanced moniter. We have hundreds of dec-tapes, lots of unpunched paper tape, two spare 4k core stacks (from the Stanford PDP-7) and an assortment of spare boards.

It is not clear how much longer the PDP-7 can be kept in operation. I am the only one left here that is inclined to keep it going. As an Emeritus Professor at age 76, eight years retired, I am loosing or have lost my clout and may loose the space to other University needs. I hope that the machine may soon find a museum home. I am interested in comments from this forum.

Harlan Lefevre
lefevre@darkwing.uoregon.edu
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Posted 4/22/2006 8:37 AM
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I hope your PDP-7 finds a home. While the more popular DEC minis such as the PDP-8, PDP-11, and VAX (along with the DEC-10/20, of course) got all the limelight, there was lots of very good work going on in labs such as yours on the lesser-known 18-bit family, whose roots go all the way back to the original PDP-1.

The PDP-7, in particular, was the first machine where Bell Labs' researches Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie first developed the C programming language, and then, UNIX, back in 1969.

That, if for nothing else, is reason enough to preserve and restore any PDP-7 gear still in the wild.

John Francini
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Posted 4/22/2006 7:42 PM
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I like to think that Harlan's PDP-7 is coming to a good home. Watch this site for announcements!

Minor correction: Ken Thompson wrote the first two versions of Unix in PDP-7 assembler; some utilities were written in B, as I understand it. Dennis Ritchie created C as a successor to B, and talked Ken into trying a re-write of the PDP-7 code in C as a test of porting it to the PDP-11.

If Bell Labs hadn't been too frugal to buy Ken Thompson the PDP-10 he originally requested, instead of giving him a retired PDP-7, think how history would have changed!
Rich Alderson (RichA@Vulcan.com)
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Posted 9/14/2007 10:41 AM
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I gather the Oregon machine has gone to PDP Planet, lets hope to see it online soon. Any pictures of the move ?.

For my part I'm contacting all the UK locations of 7's and 7A's just in-case there is a machine dumped somewhere, don't hold out much hope but it has to be done!. The sites are all Universities or Government facilities so are still in existence bar one, the closest to me (<5 miles) and the one I used to maintain and run, but with no means of getting on site or finding the owners, that's life.

Mike

Looking for my long lost love, a PDP-7.
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Posted 1/17/2011 11:15 AM
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Professor Lefevre is to give a talk on the 14th about the University of Oregon's PDP-7A entitled - "The University's 40 year old PDP-7 computer is alive again in Seattle"", covering the life of this machine and it's transfer to Paul Allen's PDPplanet collection.

There is a link to the University's public talks page here - which is on the 14th January.
Looking for my long lost love, a PDP-7.
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Posted 1/17/2011 11:27 AM
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Quote: Professor Lefevre is to give a talk on the 14th about the University of Oregon's PDP-7A entitled - "The University's 40 year old PDP-7 computer is alive again in Seattle"", covering the life of th...

Professor Harlan Lefevre's colloquium presentation was held on Thursday, 13 January 2011. Your moderator attended, and was invited to speak briefly about Living Computer Museum at the end.

Harlan's talk was quite informative, pointing out that their PDP-7A was one of the first used in what is now known as "computational physics". He described several of the projects conducted over the 35 years of active service for the system, including an electronics course he taught in which the PDP-7A was used as a 4-channel music synthesizer. He noted the modifications made to the system which allowed it to communicate directly with an System/360 Model 50, to use an additional 8Kword memory, and to run PDP-9 software without modification.

I'd like to thank my friend Harlan once again for inviting us to attend.


Rich Alderson

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Posted 3/8/2011 11:02 AM
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are there any videos of this presentation, would love to see it
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Posted 3/8/2011 11:09 AM
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Harlan's talk was an informal colloquium presented to members of the Computer Science department at UOregon.
As such, no one arranged for it to be captured permanently, which is unfortunate.

We will put up the Powerpoint slides from the talk on the Links & Resources page one of these days.

Rich Alderson
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Posted 3/9/2011 1:16 PM
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Quote: Harlan's talk was an informal colloquium presented to members of the Computer Science department at UOregon.As such, no one arranged for it to be captured permanently, which is unfortunate.We will put...

Hi,

We have been corresponding with Harlan and with his permission have the Powerpoint presentation, sound files and a few other photos from him hosted here - http://www.soemtron.org/pdp7no113systeminfo.html.

Well done to Rich, Keith Perez and the PDPplanet Project folks for getting this machine into the collection and up and running again.

Mike.
www.pdp-7.org
Looking for my long lost love, a PDP-7.

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Posted 8/24/2011 10:51 AM
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Quote: Harlan's talk was an informal colloquium presented to members of the Computer Science department at UOregon.As such, no one arranged for it to be captured permanently, which is unfortunate.We will put...

Hi,

We have been corresponding with Harlan and with his permission have the Powerpoint presentation, sound files and a few other photos from him hosted here - http://www.soemtron.org/pdp7no113systeminfo.html.

Well done to Rich, Keith Perez and the PDPplanet Project folks for getting this machine into the collection and up and running again.

Mike.
www.pdp-7.org
Looking for my long lost love, a PDP-7.

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