Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) built its reputation serving customers often ignored by IBM and its rivals. DEC had great success with the introduction of minicomputers, but the company’s focus on smaller systems did not mean it neglected the mainframe market.
The PDP-6—introduced in 1964 and designed to support timesharing and real-time interactive computing—found few customers, but gave way to the highly-successful PDP-10 family of computers released in 1966. The PDP-10, which shared instruction sets with the PDP-6, soon found its way into the computer rooms of universities, data centers and other institutional customers who could afford the $500,000 to $1 million price tag. The PDP-10 also played a key role in the development and spread of ARPANET, the precursor to today’s Internet. By the time the PDP-10 line was retired in 1983, as many as 700 systems had been sold.
Introduced in 1971 with the name “DECsystem‑10,” the KI-10 CPU (pictured here) was the 2nd model of the PDP‑10 family of computers.
This computer started life as part of a dual-processor system (called a DECsystem‑1077) at the University of Kiel. After retirement, it languished in storage for more than 20 years, suffering water damage due to a flood, until a computer museum in Kiel decided to rescue it and put on display one CPU, one memory cabinet, and one disk drive. The remainder of the system, totaling nearly 30 cabinets, was acquired by a pair of collectors. The collection was transferred to Living Computers in 2012. Its restoration took a little more than a year and the efforts of six engineers and programmers at LCM+L.