Computer History Museum - Restoring the DEC PDP-1 Computer Exhibit

The Machine

Using DEC’s initial product—a series of interconnectable circuits known as “Laboratory Modules”—engineer Ben Gurley designed a high-speed, solid state, digital Programmed Data Processor (PDP)—the PDP-1—considered the first commercial, interactive computer. Basing his system on the MIT Lincoln Laboratory TX-0 and TX-2 computers, Gurley designed the 18-bit machine in under three–and–a–half months.

In this section, you can explore the computing environment in which the PDP-1 was developed (“Interactive Computing”); its debt to MIT Lincoln Laboratory (“Origins of the PDP-1”); and learn about the machine’s technical characteristics in “Specifications.”

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