Introduction to PDP-8

The PDP-8 was released in 1965 by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). It belonged to a class of computers called minicomputers which were smaller and cheaper than the big IBM mainframes or the Elliottt computers available at the time. It was personal to one user rather than a group of users and is therefore viewed by some as the first 'personal computer'. It cost £18,000 (equivalent of £300,000 today) and had only 4k of memory. It would take 250,000 of these computers to have the same memory storage as a modern smartphone. 50,000 PDP-8s were sold. The PDP-8 can be seen as a step towards the PC as we know it today.

DEC dominated the minicomputer market. By late 1973, the PDP-8 family was the best selling computer in the world. The PDP-8 has been described as the model-T of the computer industry because it was the first computer to be mass produced at a cost that a smaller company could afford.

  • The Age of the Mini-computer

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User Interface


Impact on Society


Images of the PDP-8

In its day the PDP-8 was quite lively and capable. By today's standards it was slow and had limited memory. Big mainframes were only affordable by big corporations and institutions. Because minicomputers were cheaper, individual departments could afford to buy them independently: purchase decisions could be made at departmental level. This led to a large growth in computers sold and significantly spread their use.

The PDP-8 was popular for playing games and several games were written for it or ported to it from earlier machines.


  • The PDP-8 Personel Computer