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PDP-8 Replica Project

Computers & Mobile
PDP-8 Replica Project

On the Vintage Computer Festival website, they document a number of builds of replica computers from the history of computer science. This gallery shows progress pics from the recreation of a DEC PDP-8, the first commercially-successful minicomputer. This is a non-working replica, BTW. To get the look of the Flip-Chip Module Arrays inside, photocopies of original modules were made and glued onto plastic card.


Bare Frame
I started out with the basic bare frame of the replica. I used 2×2 fastened together with construction brackets. I needed to fatten the width of the vertical frame support so I glued 1/4″ thick slats onto either side. The trim edge around the top of the base is dense particle board.


Painted Frame Next to Original
The frame has been painted with a textured spraypaint that gives it a hammered metal look to match the original.


Original Cover Next to Replica
The original cover on the left was replicated using standard acrylic. The bending was done by the plastics shop where the acrylic was purchased. A groove was routed into the underside of the top piece for the main body to fit into.


Completed Replica

PDP-8 Replica Project

4 thoughts on “PDP-8 Replica Project

  1. Sellam Ismail says:

    Hi Gareth.

    Thanks for posting this. It reminds me that I never publicly published the make log for my subsequent project, a fully functional PDP-1 replica:

    There were a couple photos I needed to add and I’m such a perfectionist I didn’t want to publish it before they were taken, and then I’m such a procrastinator that I never got around to it :(

    The design seen in the log above changed significantly as I went on to make two more of these. The later design was much more modular and easier to construct (yet they each seemed to take more time than the last, probably because I was documenting as I went along to make subsequent builds even easier).

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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