Programmed Data Processor (PDP), referred to by some customers, media and authors as "Programmable Data Processor," is a term used by the Digital Equipment Corporation from 1957 to 1990 for several lines of minicomputers. The name "PDP" intentionally avoids the use of the term "computer" because, at the time of the first PDPs, computers had a reputation of being large, complicated, and expensive machines, and the venture capitalists behind Digital (especially Georges Doriot) would not support Digital's attempting to build a "computer"; the word "minicomputer" had not yet been coined. So instead, Digital used their existing line of logic modules to build a Programmed Data Processor and aimed it at a market that could not afford the larger computers.
The various PDP machines can generally be grouped into families based on word length.
The last of DEC's 53 PDP-1 computers was built in 1969, a decade[NB 1] after the first, and nearly all of them were still in use as of 1975.: p.4 "An average configuration cost $120,000" at a time "when most computer systems sold for a million dollars or more."
Its architectural successors as 18-bit machines were the PDP-4, PDP-7, PDP-9, and the PDP-15.
A number reserved for an unbuilt, undesigned 24-bit design.
This 18-bit machine, first shipped in 1962 of which "approximately 54 were sold" was a compromise: "with slower memory and different packaging" than the PDP-1, but priced at $65,000 - considerably less than its predecessor (about half the price).: p.4 All later 18-bit PDP machines (7, 9 and 15) are based on a similar, but enlarged instruction set, more powerful, but based on the same concepts as the 12-bit PDP-5/PDP-8 series. One customer of these early PDP machines was Atomic Energy of Canada. The installation at Chalk River, Ontario included an early PDP-4 with a display system and a new PDP-5 as interface to the research reactor instrumentation and control.
It was the world's first commercially produced minicomputer: p.4 and DEC's first 12-bit machine (1963). The instruction set was later expanded in the PDP-8 to handle more bit rotations and to increase the maximum memory size from 4K words to 32K words. It was one of the first computer series with more than 1,000 built.[clarification needed]
This 36-bit machine, DEC's first large PDP computer, came in 1964 with the first DEC-supported timesharing system. 23 were installed.: p.6 Although the PDP-6 was "disappointing to management," it introduced the instruction set and was the prototype for the far more successful PDP-10 and DEC System-20, of which hundreds were sold.
12-bit machine (1965) with a tiny instruction set; DEC's first major commercial success and the start of the minicomputer revolution. Many were purchased (at discount prices, a DEC tradition, which also included free manuals for anyone who asked during the Ken Olsen years) by schools, university departments, and research laboratories.
Successor to the PDP-7; DEC's first micro-programmed machine (1966). It features a speed increase of approximately twice that of the PDP-7. The PDP-9 is also one of the first small or medium scale computers to have a keyboard monitor system based on DIGITAL's own small magnetic tape units (DECtape). The PDP-9 established minicomputers as the leading edge of the computer industry.[dubious – discuss]
Also marketed as the DECsystem-10,[NB 2][NB 3] this 36-bit timesharing machine (1966) was quite successful over several different implementations (KA, KI, KL, KS) and models.[NB 4] The instruction set is a slightly elaborated form of that of the PDP-6.
The KL was also used for the DECSYSTEM-20. The KS was used for the 2020, DEC's entry in the distributed processing market, introduced as "the world's lowest cost mainframe computer system."
The archetypal minicomputer (1970); a 16-bit machine and another commercial success for DEC. The LSI-11 is a four-chip PDP-11 used primarily for embedded systems. The 32-bitVAX series is descended from the PDP-11, and early VAX models have a PDP-11 compatibility mode. The 16-bit PDP-11 instruction set has been very influential, with processors ranging from the Motorola 68000 to the Renesas H8 and Texas InstrumentsMSP430, inspired by its highly orthogonal, general-register oriented instruction set and rich addressing modes. The PDP-11 family was extremely long-lived, spanning 20 years and many different implementations and technologies.
12-bit machine (1969), descendant of the LINC-8 and thus of the PDP-8. It can execute the instruction set of either system. See LINC and PDP-12 User Manual. With slight redesign, and different livery, officially followed by, and marketed as, the "Lab-8".
A machine with 12-bit instructions, intended as an industrial controller (PLC; 1969). It has no data memory or data registers; instructions can test Boolean input signals, set or clear Boolean output signals, jump conditional or unconditionally, or call a subroutine. Later versions (for example, the PDP-14/30) are based on PDP-8 physical packaging technology. I/O is line voltage.
DEC's final 18-bit machine (1970). It is the only 18-bit machine constructed from TTLintegrated circuits rather than discrete transistors, and, like every DEC 18-bit system (except mandatory on the PDP-1, absent on the PDP-4) has an optional integrated vector graphics terminal, DEC's first improvement on its early-designed 34n where n equalled the PDP's number. Later versions of the PDP-15 run a real-time multi-user OS called "XVM". The final model, the PDP-15/76 uses a small PDP-11 to allow Unichannel peripherals to be used.
A "roll-your-own" sort of computer using Register Transfer Modules, mainly intended for industrial control systems with more capability than the PDP-14. The PDP-16/M was introduced in 1972 as a standard version of the PDP-16.
TX-0 designed by MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, important as influence for DEC products including Ben Gurley's design for the PDP-1
LINC (Laboratory Instrument Computer), originally designed by MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, some built by DEC. Not in the PDP family, but important as progenitor of the PDP-12. The LINC and the PDP-8 can be considered the first minicomputers, and perhaps the first personal computers as well. The PDP-8 and PDP-11 are the most popular of the PDP series of machines. Digital never made a PDP-20, although the term was sometimes used for a PDP-10 running TOPS-20 (officially known as a DECSYSTEM-20).
^Henderson, edited by Rebecca M.; Newell, Richard G. (2011). Accelerating energy innovation : insights from multiple sectors. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 180. ISBN978-0226326832.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
^Huang, Han-Way (2014). The atmel AVR microcontroller : MEGA and XMEGA in assembly and C. Australia ; United Kingdom: Delmar Cengage Learning. p. 4. ISBN978-1133607298.
DEC LAB-8/e (PDP-8/e) playing music - YouTube Video for DEC "lab-8" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akvSE5Z474c&lang=en Apr 1, 2008 - Uploaded by Philipp Hachtmann This is a video of my 1971 DEC LAB-8/e minicomputer playing music. In this video it is revealed where ...
DEC LAB-8/e (PDP-8/e) CRT display running kaleidoscope - YouTube Video for DEC "lab-8" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBaTzbsgQYk&lang=en Mar 1, 2008 - Uploaded by Philipp Hachtmann. This is my LAB-8/e running the Kaleidoscope program on VC8-E (vector display controller) and VR14
Conversations with David M. Razler (email@example.com), owner/restorer of PDP-7s,8s,9s and 15s until the cost of hauling around 2 tons of DEC gear led him to sell off or give away everything he owned.
Various sites list documents by Charles Lasner, the creator of the alt.sys.pdp8 discussion group, and related documents by various members of the alt.sys.pdp8 readership with even more authoritative information about the various models, especially detailed focus upon the various members of the PDP-8 "family" of computers both made and not made by DEC.