Via the new Web site, registered users from around the world can telnet into a working DECsystem-10 or an XKL Toad-1, create or upload programs, and run them -- essentially stepping back in time to access an "antique" mainframe. Demonstrating how computing was conducted before the convenience of today's powerful desktop, laptop and palm devices, PDP Planet will give users an appreciation of how it felt to be an early programmer.
Years before there were the pervasive PCs and Macs that are everywhere in today's homes and businesses, PDPs were important mainframe and mini computers, providing fertile ground for the researchers, programmers and hackers of the era. MIT students came up with the first video game (called "Spacewar!") on the PDP-1, which helped show the potential for computing applications beyond the traditional number-crunching activities of the day. From there, it was just a matter of time until room-size mainframes evolved into third-generation minicomputers (beginning with the PDP-8, which sold for about $16,000 but had less computing power than a 21st century calculator). It was made possible with the use of transistor and core memory technology, so some of these machines including the PDP-8 could even fit on a (large) desktop. Although still a far-cry from the laptops and small form-factor machines we all use in our everyday lives, the computing revolution had begun and there was no turning back.
"PDP Planet fulfills my dream to find a way to preserve the achievements of early computer engineers," said Allen. "With running versions of these machines via the Web site, we now have a place that recognizes the efforts of those creative engineers who made some of the early breakthroughs in interactive computing that changed the world." Along with the forthcoming Microcomputer Gallery being created by Allen at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque (opening late this year), and the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, PDP Planet provides an important exploration of the early technology that launched a revolution.
Before co-founding Microsoft, Paul Allen honed his coding skills by teaching himself to simulate how microprocessors work using PDP-10 computers. Along with Bill Gates, Allen worked at the Computer Center Corporation in 1968 in Seattle, finding bugs and enhancing the company's PDP-10 software. "My work at CCC and my previous exposure to computer timesharing at Lakeside High School were my first forays into computing," added Allen. "Those experiences during my teen years began my interest in programming and technology, and changed my life."
About Paul G. Allen
Investor and philanthropist Paul G. Allen creates and advances world-class projects and high-impact initiatives that change and improve the way people live, learn, work and experience the world through arts, education, entertainment, sports, business and technology. He co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1976, remained the company's chief technologist until he left Microsoft in 1983, and is the founder and chairman of Vulcan Inc. and chairman of Charter Communications. In addition, Allen's multibillion dollar investment portfolio includes large stakes in DreamWorks Animation, Digeo, Oxygen Media, real estate holdings and more than 40 other technology, media and content companies. Allen was the sponsor of SpaceShipOne, the first privately-funded effort to successfully put a civilian in suborbital space and winner of the Ansari X-Prize competition. Allen also owns the Seattle Seahawks NFL and Portland Trail Blazers NBA franchises.
Named one of the top 10 philanthropists in America, Allen gives back to the community through the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, whose goal is to transforms individual lives and strengthens communities by supporting arts and culture, youth engagement, community development and social change, and scientific and technological innovation throughout the Pacific Northwest. Allen is also founder of Experience Music Project, Seattle's critically-acclaimed interactive music museum, the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, and Vulcan Productions, the independent film production company behind last year's unprecedented Rx for Survival: A Global Health Challenge series, Todd Haynes' critically-acclaimed feature film Far From Heaven, the 2001 Evolution series on PBS, and last year's seven-part series The Blues, executive produced by Martin Scorsese in conjunction with Allen and Jody Patton. Learn more about Allen online at www.paulallen.com and www.vulcan.com.