Special Section, Early UNIX and C, Ken Thompson, Denis Richie and Me
(kickass early computers, greyscale photos and some reministing for the good old days)


To explain, the PDP series of micro-computers (as they were known in the late 1960's), made by DEC were one of the most important and inflientuial computers ever made a very large proportion of what we take for granted today was developed on those systems. Here is my small homage to those systems, for more detail then www.pdp11.org is about as good as you can get.

Dennis Richie (standing) and Ken Thompson in front of a PDP-11 system (sometime 1973)

A real bit of history this, the creators of both UNIX and C around a computer that both were initaly implemented on. You can see Ken is sitting in front of a telytype terminal, and Denis is standing over him unfortunatly obsuricing the rack of tape drives.

Given the time frame they might well be working on the second version of UNIX or the final stages of the re-write from assembler to C. Note the shocking primate 'development enviroment', no fancy IDE's and class generators here, this is how real men program, crash-and-burn, style.

Yes this is a micro-computer, back when DEC introduced the PDP-7, then the PDP-9 and PDP-11 they were the most compact (by an order of maginitude) and powerfull computers that you could get your commerical hands on.

Me in front of a PDP-11/44 at Serck Controls in June 2001

Just to prove that good hardware never dies, i came across this PDP-11 hidden in the back of one of the offices at Serck Controls Ltd., where i was doing my industrial placement as an embedded operating systems and application programmer. This little baby was still in use as a comms controler at this time, quite remarckable !!.

I broke one of my own rules by getting a picture of this baby and me, but i just had to, you dont come accross PDP-11's everyday you know. Previusly i had only ever read about the PDP-11 and simmilar generation of kit, to quote anonymosly "we can only see so far because we stand on the sholders of giants", in which role Denis, Ken and the PDP-11 much have a place.

I struck a cord with me more than most because i use (and type this now) on Liunx an operating system massivly inspired by UNIX and i earn my bread by programming in C, both of which i can trace directly to the work both of these people did about 20 years before i was even born.

A closeup showing off some details of the PDP-11

This extra image is just to prove that it really is a PDP-11/44 not just some large cream box, look big buttons and a massive extractor fan. Thats a real computer, none of this wearable crap, forget flash memory disks, i want ferrite core memory, whats this super piplined fpga gate array chips with programmable cores, i want crematic block wire wrap boards, i dont want fancy debug enviroments i want hex core dumps and flashing lights.

Now for some thanks, firstly Mr Alex Austin for telling me about the PDP-11 in the first palce, then Mr Guy Cox-Casey for the taking of the photos, and Mr Graham Hunter for turning them into a digital form (all serck controls), thanks guys.

bye.