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The PDP-10 was DEC's 36-bit family of computers . It was brought onto the market at the end of the 1960s as a downwardly compatible further development of the PDP-6 and later marketed as the DECSystem-10 or DECSystem-20 . The systems could be classified as mainframes both in terms of their performance data and their external dimensions .

There were four different central units within the product range (KA10, KI10, KL10 and KS10). The completion of the development work on another central unit (“Project Jupiter”) in 1983 was the first sign that the entire product range was being discontinued.

Operating systems included TOPS-10 (Time Sharing Operating System 10, an interactive multi-user operating system), ITS , TENEX , TOPS-20 (also referred to as TWENEX ), as well as Compuserve's own operating system based on TOPS-10 .

PDP-10 computers were particularly popular in the academic environment because, unlike the prevailing IBM or CDC systems, they were primarily intended for interactive operation rather than for batch processing. Well-developed systems had 150 or more connected terminals that could be active simultaneously in time-sharing mode.

PDP-10s could be combined under TOPS-10, version 7 and higher to form symmetrical multiprocessor systems of up to eight computers, which enabled uninterrupted operation despite possible hardware failures.

Central units and systems

  • KA10 (the original PDP-10), TOPS-10 only
    • 1040
    • 1050
    • 1055 (dual processor)
  • KI10 (the first DECSystem10), only TOPS-10
    • 1060
    • 1070
    • 1077 (dual processor)
      KL10-A 1090 CPU with 6 storage cabinets
  • KL10 (the first CPU that was developed for TOPS-10 and TOPS-20, microprogrammed)
    • 1080 TOPS-10
    • 1088 (dual processor) TOPS-10
    • 1090 TOPS-10
    • 2080 TOPS-20
    • 2088 (dual processor) TOPS-20
  • KS10 (micro-programmed)
    • DECSystem2020 (TOPS-10 and TOPS-20)

Equipment and peripherals

PDP-10 console

The normal peripheral equipment initially included 16 KByte core memory, removable disk drive, DEC tape magnetic tape system, folding punch tape unit, magnetic tape drive, roller printer and mechanical teleprinter. A freely programmable analog-digital interface system was available for connecting real-time control components. The drives were i. d. Usually housed in a cabinet with cooling. In the first few years, communication between interactive users took place exclusively via electro-mechanical teleprinters (Teletype type) at a speed of 110 baud.

Emulation or simulation

The SIMH software for simulating historical computers also includes a module that emulates the PDP-10 on a Windows or Unix-type computer. The CPU KS10 is simulated. With the help of copies of the original DEC magnetic tapes available on the Internet, an executable TOPS-10 or TOPS-20 system can be set up.

See also


  1. Regarding the nomenclature: The registered trademark was DECSystem-10, the manuals read DECSystem10, "System" in a different color, cf. here ( Memento of the original from December 1, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.bitsavers.org
  2. There were two versions of the KL10: KL10-A as a direct successor to the KI10, KL10-B with a new internal memory concept.

Web links

Commons : PDP-10  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files