The Idiot's Guide to the PDP series of Minicomputers (written by an idiot......:-)

This page is not about the normal things you might find on the Internet about the pdp's ie history,pretty pics,etc.It is more simple.It assumes that you have downloaded one or more emulators,compiled it (hope to have some hints and tips on that later as well)-and are now looking at some sort of prompt and wondering what the hell to do...This is how felt a week or so ago.....

Okay,here goes...First you can try booting os8 -this is an operating system for the pdp-8.Until recently there was some legal question marks over it's distribution,those have have been resolved and it is available as two disk images from D Jone's Home page.This is how you boot os8 using the emulator written by Jones.

X-Windows Version

  1. Start Jone's Emulator with command "pdp8e rxboot"
  2. Select,using plus sign by the word core,the RX0 option.
  3. Type in os8sys to load in os/8.
  4. Select 7,8,10,11 on the switch register (row of switches on the front panel).
  5. Hit the ADDR toggle switch-this loads the address from the Switch Register.
  6. Hit the CONT toggle switch-The lights will flash and you should get a os/8 prompt.

TTY Version

  1. (# is the unix prompt)
  2. #pdp8e rxboot (this loads rxboot strap into core)
  3. (press m) (device to mount)
  4. device:RX0 (you must type RX0 as Upper case!)
  5. file:os8sys (file name of os8 disk image)
  6. 0033g (Executes bootstrap from location 0033)
os8 should now boot and you will see the prompt "." ,try typing DIRECT (all os8 commands are typed in upper case..).If this does not work,it may be that rxboot has been overwritten when the emulator was exiting during an earlier session-try a new rxboot file. Information on booting, using other emulators, will follow just as soon as I have actually done it.....! Information on using os8 is on the net and can be found on one of the links..Information on how to use the pdp8 to play games will also be here...Any help gratefully received!

Using a pdp-11 emulator (best to use may be Bob Supniks one) it is possible to boot an early version of Unix.The Unix files are endian dependant-one linux you should be okay but on Solaris you will have to do this to convert the files:- dd if=unix file of=your file name conv=swab I have compiled Supniks emulators on Solaris 2.5.1 and have booted Unix five and seven. You can download the files from the following links:-

  1. Supniks emulators
  2. RDOS
  3. os/8
  4. unix 5
  5. unix 6
  6. unix 7
The file images came from a Unix society and I will put a link to them soon.

The Links

  1. PDP page
  2. Doug Jones PDP 8 Page
  3. "PDP documentation"
  4. More doc's and other info
  5. - lots of stuff!
  6. - docs and OS stuff
  7. Nice Comprehensive archive
  8. nice pics-interesting!

Last updated 15/6/97 by Ian (the idiot..)


  1. Doug Jones for his help on getting os/8 booted.
  2. George Doster for the info on booting os/8 using X-window Version of the emulator.

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