Today I spotted this article on the PDP-11 on twitter. It reminded me that the PDP-11 has affected me nearly my whole life.

I grew up just a couple of miles from DEC headquarters, which was generally called "Digital." Everyone in town worked there, had someone in their family who worked there, or at least knew someone who worked there.

I programmed a PDP-11 in high school. I was fortunate enough to attend a school with a computer lab. It had a PDP-8 and a PDP-11.

I had a girlfriend whose Mom worked at digital and had a VT52 terminal at home. We connected to a PDP-11 over the phone with an acoustic coupler and played games on it.

My first job after high school was at Atex, which at the time sold publishing systems (before "desktop publishing" was a thing). We added proprietary hardware and software to PDP-11s and sold them to newspapers and magazines. You can see some of our gear in the movie Superman.


Lois and Clark typed on typewriters, but those people behind them are on a VT52 terminal. I don't remember if we put an Atex logo anywhere on the terminals. We did cover the DEC logos with Atex logos on the racks containing the PDP-11 and proprietary gear. Here's a frisbee with the logo.


I worked at Atex for several years before quitting to go to college. Most of my programming coursework was done in Pascal on a CDC 7600. But my Assembly Language Programming course was on a PDP-11.


I still have an 8-inch floppy disk with my homework on it (no, I don't have an 8-inch floppy drive to read it with)!


Actually, we did most of the course on the PDP-11, but at the end we went down to the Microcomputer Lab and looked at Intel Assembly. Assembly on the PDP-11 was delightful. Assembly on the microcomputers was, er, not. I remain soured on "x86 assembly" to this day. In fact, only an hour ago I recommended to someone learning assembly language programming to give ARM a try instead of x86.