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PDP-10 (Programmed Data Processor - 10) was a series of large, 36-bit computers made by Digital Equipment Corporation from the 1960s to the 1980s. Used in many universities and research laboratories, they played an important role in the popularization of time-sharing in the 1970s (the prominent model of computing having been the batch processing). The most well-known operating systems used on PDP-10 were TOPS-10, TOPS-20, TENEX, and ITS.

Brief history[]

The PDP-10 was mainly designed by engineer Alan Kotok (1941–2006) and was influenced by PDP-6, the earlier attempt to build a 36-bit computer at DEC. The first PDP-10 models, based on the KA10 processor and running what would later become known as the TOPS-10 operating system, were introduced in 1967. The DECsystem-10 computer was introduced in 1971 and a new processor, KI10, in the following year. KL10, the most powerful of the main processors, was introduced in 1974. It was microcoded and used a PDP-11 minicomputer as a frontend.

In 1976, DEC introduced DECSYSTEM-20, based on KL10 and running the new TOPS-20 operating system. TOPS-20, nicknamed "TWENEX" by its users, was a derivative of TENEX developed at Bolt Beranek & Newman. A couple of years later, the KS10 processor was introduced and became the basis of the low-cost DECsystem-2020. In around 1980, DEC started the Jupiter project to design a new PDP-10 system, but the project failed.[1] In 1983, the company eventually cancelled the PDP-10 line, in favor of the increasingly successful 32-bit VAX line.

Games on PDP-10[]

Among the games originally developed on PDP-10 were Colossal Cave Adventure, DECWAR, Haunt, and Zork, all in the 1970s. The first MUD was also developed on the machine in the late 1970s. It ran on a DECsystem-10 and was originally written in the MACRO-10 assembly language.


  1. Other PDP-10 related attempts at DEC include at least "Dolphin" and "Minnow".

External links[]