Booting A PDP-11

As we move swiftly into an era of ubiquitous computing, Internets of Things, and mind-machine connections via wetware, it’s important to step back and take a look at where we’ve been. That’s why this How-To by Trammell Hudson is so cool. It shows how to boot a PDP-11 so you can play Adventure on a monochrome screen and reminds us that old computer were as finicky as Model T Fords.

The PDP-11 is one of the first machines to run the first Unix shell. Released in 1970, this 16-bit microcomputer originally had 256K of memory and a processor that had a fraction of the speed and power of a Pebble smartwatch.

And check out this disk drive (Note for young founders: Disks are like flash drives, only they spin!)


It’s great to see people playing with old hardware. The closest I’ve gotten to this is firing up an old Apple Newton as well as my original Atari 800XL. It’s getting harder and harder, however, to find ways to connect old hardware to new televisions and accessories. Not many PCs have serial ports anymore and I can’t recall the last time I saw a TV that could accept a GAME/TV switcher.

Want to play with a virtual PDP-11 in your browser? Hop over here for a bit of old-timey emulation. It will make you look at iOS and Android in a whole different light.

via Adafruit