for Digital Equipment Corp (DEC):
Documents, Photo Albums, Talks, and Videotapes about Computing History
Minicomputer Industry Overview and Formation
Observations about the
formation and evolution of the minicomputer industry was a key data-point in the
formation of Bell's Law that minis typify.
Bell's Law of Computer Classes and Class formation
was first described in
1972 with the emergence of a new, lower priced microcomputer class based on
the microprocessor. Established market class computers are introduced at a
constant price with increasing functionality (or performance).
Technology advances in semiconductors, storage, interfaces and networks enable a
new computer class (platform) to form about every decade to serve a new need.
Each new usually lower priced class is maintained as a quasi independent
industry (market). Classes include: mainframes (60's), minicomputers (70's),
networked workstations and personal computers (80's), browser-web-server
structure (90's), web services (2000's), palm computing (1995), convergence of
cell phones and computers (2003), and Wireless Sensor Networks aka motes (2004).
Beginning in the 1990s, a single class of scalable computers called clusters
built from a few to tens of thousands of commodity
microcomputer-storage-networked bricks began to cover and replace mainframes,
minis, and workstation. Bell predicts home and body area networks will form by
2010. See also the
description of several laws (e.g. Moore's, Metcalfes's, Nathan's, Bill's,
Bell's) that govern the computer industry is given in
Laws, a talk by Jim Gray and Gordon Bell.
With scalable computers, minis per se are
nearly all being replaced by clustered, scalable computers i.e. computers formed
from simple computers such as a PC that are interconnected via high speed
networks. Clusters cover a range from a few to eventually over a million,
independent processors in a "scaled out" configuration. The mini we knew and
love c2000 built by HP, IBM, and SUN that cost $100,000 to $1 Million evolved to
be a scaled out "multi" or multiple, shared memory computer as I described in
Bell, C. G., "Multis:
A New Class of Multiprocessor Computers", Science, Vol. 228, pp. 462-467
(April 26, 1985).
Overview of Digital aka DEC
DEC Engineering and Process Documents
- Engineer's Orientation Manual from 1980. 206 pages contained in
a 14MB PDF file. Table of Contents lists ten sections: Corporate Overview, Funding, Life of a Hardware Project,
Life of a Software Project, Office of Development/Engineering, Product Line Groups, Process Manufacturing, Information
Services, Customer Services, and References and Resources.
- Engineer's Orientation Manual from 1982. 7MB PDF file. Table
of Contents lists twelve sections: Corporate Overview, Personnel, Funding, Phase Review Process, Engineering Development Groups,
Engineering Support Group, Process Technology Development, Product Line Group, Manufacturing, Information Services, Customer
Services, and References and Resources.
- Engineering Handbook from 1974. 1MB PDF file.
- 1988 Corporate Phase Review Process Guide. 29MB PDF file.
include Corporate Phase Review Process, Product Management, Marketing, Engineering, Manufacturing, Corporate Product Operations -
Sales, and Customer Services.
Equipment Corporation Machine and Programming Manuals
- Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-1
Manual, 1960 (original version) @2MB PDF.
- Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-1
Manual, 1961 @5.5MB PDF
- Digital Equipment Corporation F-25 PDP-1 Manual
for I/O @8.3 MB PDF, authored by Gordon Bell, describing the various ways
I/O devices could be connected to PDP-1. It included interrupts we called
sequence break, coming from MIT's Lincoln Laboratory; high speed memory that
evolved to be called direct memory access or DMA.
- Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-4
Manual, 1962 @3.8MB PDF.
- Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-5
Manual, 1964 @7.2MB PDF.
- Digital Equipment Corporation
PDP-11 Manual, 1969, with ISP description of the architecture @5.9MB PDF
- Digital Equipment Corporation RT-11 Introduction Manual, 1977
- Digital Equipment Corporation RT-11 System User's
Guide, 1977 @23.3MB PDF.
- Digital Equipment Corporation, Intel, and Xerox Ethernet Specifications Manual, 1980
Papers and Memos
Articles and Product
- A Computer That Grows
With You. Business Week article (PDF 0.5 MB), March 1964, on the
introduction of PDP-6 with photo of Gordon Bell and Dick Best.
- Using a PDP-1
Computer as a Pulse Height Analyzer. A paper by John Leng and
Gordon Bell and others while John worked for the Atomic Energy of Canada. Note that
this "first" was a prototype for Digital's subsequent entry into the
- Bell, C. G., R. Cady, H. McFarland, B. Delagi, J.
O'Laughlin, R. Noonan and W. Wulf,
"A New Architecture for Mini-Computers -- The DEC PDP-11, Sprint Joint
Computer Conference, pp. 657-675 (1970).
- Bell, C. G., A. Kotok, T. N. Hastings, and R. Hill,
“The Evolution of the DECsystem 10,” Communications of the ACM,
Vol. 21, No. 1, January 1978, pp 44-62
- The complete
Ethernet Announcement by Bell (Digital), Noyce (Intel), and Liddle (Xerox)
slides and script (PDF 7MB) was made in New York City on February 10, 1982
by the DIX group, followed by announcements in Amsterdam, and London. Note Gordon's presentation states:
becomes the system"... Can you recall a similar
mantra that SUN Microsystems later appropriated?
- Ethernet Announcement.
Gordon's Ethernet announcement with slides and talk text.
on the PDP-11 Paper (unpublished) written by me in 1995 to be published
with the original PDP-11 paper.
on the PDP-11 written by Bill Strecker with a retrospective about VAX
and Alpha and published in 1995.
we learned from the PDP-11, published by myself and Bill Strecker in
Appendix for Edgar H. Schein's book “DEC is Dead, Long Live DEC” Berett-Koehler
Publishers, San Francisco, 2003. The appendix describes Bell's view of What
Happened such that Digital was first sold to Compaq in 1998 and then to
HP in 2002. Digital aka DEC was only 41 years old at the time.
PowerPoint Albums and
Talks of Computing History from a Digital viewpoint
Netshow Videos and
On the Future of Computers. Netshow Video @28.8 Kbps.
This 1972 videotaped lecture was given at M.I.T. and describes a model for
future computers, including computer classes and the prediction of new
types of computers. This is a good example of near term, conservative
including Interviews, etc.
The following books were encoded
at Carnegie-Mellon University and hosted at their Universal Library http://www.ulib.org/.
- Bell, Grason, Newell, DESIGNING
COMPUTERS AND DIGITAL SYSTEMS USING PDP-16 REGISTER TRANSFER MODULES,
Digital Press, September 1972. At this site.
Bell, C. G., C. Mudge, J. McNamara,
ENGINEERING, Digital Press 1978. At this site.
Other books to