digital equipment corporation · maynard, massachusetts

Gerd Hoeren PDP-8 Memories

In the summer of 1968, between 9th and 10th grade, my parents signed me up for a course in computer programming. Our high school had just purchased a PDP-8/S, which it was sharing with two other schools. For the first two weeks of class, the computer wasn't even at our school. So, we learned Boolean algebra and the PDP-8 instruction set. We would write machine language programs and "run" them on paper! It as super exciting when the machine actually arrived in our classroom and we could toggle in our programs and watch them run.

We had a small library for decimal input/output on the ASR-33. That was all we needed to write machine language programs which performed arithmetic operations. Our teacher impressed on us how so few instructions - TAD, DCA, CIA, ISZ - were capable of doing any arithmetic operation.

Later, we got to load a BASIC interpreter from paper tape and even more was possible - computer games, like tic-tac toe!

It didn't take long for me to realize that programming computers was what I wanted to do with my life. I've had a fabulous career as a software engineer because the technology and problems to be solved kept moving forward. And it all stared with a 12-bit, 4K machine that had only a few instructions!

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Feel free to contact me, David Gesswein djg@pdp8online.com with any questions, comments on the web site, or if you have related equipment, documentation, software etc. you are willing to part with.  I am interested in anything PDP-8 related, computers, peripherals used with them, DEC or third party, or documentation. 

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