[vcf-midatlantic] Last call for Group Unix Exhibit

Ethan Dicks ethan.dicks at gmail.com
Thu Feb 21 13:22:14 EST 2019

On Thu, Feb 21, 2019 at 12:29 PM Brian L. Stuart via vcf-midatlantic
<vcf-midatlantic at lists.vcfed.org> wrote:
> I haven't really decided for sure about what I want to
> exhibit this year.  One option I've been considering is
> to set up one of Oscar's PiDP-11 model PDP-11/70s
> running 6ed UNIX to show some about early UNIX.
> Would there be interest in such an exhibit and would
> it be welcome in the group UNIX Exhibi

Let me preface my answer by saying that I've been Oscar's neighbor at
VCF East and VCF Midwest, I built a PiDP-8, I helped with refining the
toggle switch design on the PiDP-11, and I have a PiDP-11 enroute
right now.  That said, I think an early UNIX is a good idea but I'm
less sold on doing it by means of simulation.

Here's a list of supported hardware for 5th ed forward


If I had a known-good Unibus PDP-11, I'd seriously consider putting
together my own 1970s UNIX box, but I'm still in the middle of going
through a pile of PDP-11/04 and PDP-11/34 hardware and haven't yet
gotten past what seems to be a slightly-broken BA-11L/front panel
situation.  I don't happen to have an 11/40 or 11/45 and an 11/70
won't fit in my Saturn wagon (newer stuff like an 11/23 is much easier
to put together)

My own goal has been for a while to show PDP-11 UNIX on early hardware
for the 50th anniversary of UNIX on the PDP-11 (this year is the
anniversary on the PDP-7).  My target is 1st ed/2nd ed UNIX (as
preserved by Warren Toomey) on an 11/20, which will take some
additional time to restore and is out of scope for this year.   The
biggest hurdle for anything pre-7th ed is disk.  Later UNIX editions
(v7, 2.9BSD, 2.11BSD...) support 1980s disks like the RL02 or MSCP
which are far, far easier to keep running.

If someone wanted to put together an 11/34 w/128Kw (preferably with
FP11-A floating point) and an RK11/RK05, that might make a viable v6
platform.  I have all that gear but am hesitant to promise I can
ensure it's all 100% functional by May.  I can do it down the road but
the time is tight right now.

Keeping desktop-sized stuff running is a lot easier than big boxes.
The time required does not scale linearly.

So, yes, I think it would be great to have early UNIX but I'm in it
for the hardware.


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