There was a huge amount of geekery and vintage nerding going on at the computer museum at Bletchley Park last weekend. We finally got the PDP 11/70 running and passing all CPU and memory diagnostics. We also installed RSTS 9.6 and performed a system configuration process called a sysgen – this took 35 minutes. The same process on a PDP emulator on my Apple Mac took 6 seconds – but where is the fun in that?!
The restoration is being carried out by Ray Allison, Malcolm Gill and Sean Allison who all previously worked for a Digital Equipment Corporation OEM in the UK called Systime. Both Ray and Malcolm are retired and Sean is the Managing Director of UK cyber security consultancy Askaris.
Scrapbook, a hypertext system which pre-dated Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web by several years, was used by the National Physical Laboratory. The restoration covers the CPU/memory subsystems and the recovery of disk packs which have not been loaded onto a disk drive for over 30 years.
Previous visits to support the museum have been carried out on spare weekends but Askaris having just established a South-East base in Basingstoke, we expect to be on site to continue with restoration work on a more regular basis.
Click on the image below to view a video that includes commentary on what was achieved. This is all critical path activity which will enable the ultimate recovery of the Scrapbook disks.