Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
PDP is also used as an acronym for Plasma Display Panel.
PDP is an abbreviation for Programmed Data Processor, the name of a series of computers, several of them ground-breaking and very influential, made by Digital Equipment Corporation. They were given that name because at the time of their introduction, computers had a reputation of being large and expensive machines, and the PDP machines were aimed at a market which couldn't afford the larger computers.
The various PDP machines can generally be grouped into families based on word length. With the notable exception of the 16-bit PDP-11, the architectures show strong similarities, with the 36-bit PDP-6 and PDP-10 architecture being the most elaborate.
Members of the PDP series include:
- PDP-1: The original PDP, an 18-bit machine used in early time-sharing operating system work, and prominent in early hacker culture. One of the first computer games, Spacewar, was developed for this machine.
- PDP-3: First 36-bit machine DEC designed, though DEC did not offer it as a product. The only PDP-3 was built by a customer in 1960. Architecturally it was essentially a PDP-1 stretched to 36-bit word width.
- PDP-4: Supposed to be a slower, cleaper alternative to the PDP-1, but not commercially successful; all later PDP 18-bit machines were based on its instruction set.
- PDP-5: DEC's first 12-bit machine. Introduced the instruction set later used in the PDP-8. As a cost-saving measure, the memory location at address zero was used as the program counter, rather than the more typical approach of using a dedicated hardware register.
- PDP-6: 36-bit timesharing machine. Very elegant architecture. It was considered a large minicomputer or a mainframe.
- PDP-7: Replacement for the PDP-4; DEC's first wire-wrapped machine. The first version of Unix was for this machine.
- PDP-8: 12-bit machine with a tiny instruction set; DEC's first wildly successful computer. The first successful "personal computer", many were purchased by schools, university departments, and research laboratories. Later models were also used in the DECmate word processor and the VT-78 workstation.
- LINC-8: A hybrid of the LINC and PDP-8 computers; two instruction sets. Progenitor of the PDP-12.
- PDP-9: Successor to the PDP-7, DEC's first micro-programmed machine.
- PDP-10: 36-bit timesharing machine, and fairly successful over several different models. The instruction set was a slightly elaborated form of that of the PDP-6.
- PDP-11: 16-bit machine, widely regarded as the best 16-bit instruction set ever created, and another huge hit for DEC. Also the LSI-11, primarily for embedded systems. The VAX series was descended from it.
- PDP-12: Descendant of the LINC-8.
- PDP-14: A 12-bit machine intended as an industrial controller.
- PDP-15: DEC's final 18-bit machine. Their only 18-bit machine constructed from TTL integrated circuits rather than discrete transistors. Later versions of the system were referred to as the "XVM" family.
- PDP-16: 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 as a standard version of the PDP-16.
- 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.
- C. Gordon Bell, J. Craig Mudge , John E. McNamara , Computer Engineering: A DEC View of Hardware Systems Design (Digital, 1979)
- Mark Crispin's 1986 list of PDP's
- DEC's PDP-6 was the worlds first commercial time-sharing system Gordon Bell interview at the Smithsonian
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