PiDP-11: Replica of the 1970s PDP-11/70

The PDP-11 was probably the most influential computer ever. It defined what we think of as normal, it was the first machine you could get Unix for, and Windows can trace its roots to the PDP-11’s other big-ticket operating system, RSX-11.
In 1975, the 11/70 was not only the biggest PDP-11, it was also the last-ever to sport a proper Blinkenlights panel. In red and purple. Sorry. Rose and Magenta. These were the 70s. But then - all of a sudden - front panels were gone from our lives and we were supposed to look at dull beige boxes for the next few decades. So very sad.
The really fascinating thing about this computer though, is that it is quite usable even today. You can run a proper 2.11BSD unix (meaning, it has the good bits of unix but not the bloat) - but you can also go back further and run Unix v6 whilst you study the famous Lions Commentary. It does TCP/IP, works as a web server, does (vector) graphics…
The PiDP-11 project aimed to bring back this venerable machine. With front panel. There might be a Raspberry Pi hiding inside, but you can even hook it up to real serial terminals if you like. All the original operating systems and software comes ready to boot.
Like my earlier PiDP-8 project, you can use the software on any Raspberry Pi even without the PiDP-11 hardware. But the idea is to go one step further, by giving it back its physical form: Blinkenlights.
There are actually four stages you can consider:
just running the PiDP-11 emulator on your Raspberry Pi and play with the PDP-11 operating systems;adding the PiDP-11 circuit board with Blinkenlights for visual effect;soldering switches onto the board to gain control of the machine over the front panel;buy the complete replica kit with fancy case, acrylic front panel cover and custom switches.The Pi has plenty of power left to do all the other things you would normally do with a Pi (media server, file server, etc). So you are not limited to just PDP-11 software.”


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