Reddit user c-wizz had discovered a bunch of “old computers” in their grandparents’ basement and posted some pictures of their loot and has since learned how popular these really are. At the risk of sounding like a millennial (which I am, although I don’t identify as one), these PCs really take the cake when it comes to computing history. Of course, they are not as old as the oldest computer ever discovered (opens in new tab)but a real history is being discovered here.
The computers c-wizz posted (opens in new tab) about the LGP-30, among others (opens in new tab), which came out in 1956, and that interface looks more like a typewriter than any modern machine I’ve seen. It came in at a MSRP of $47,000, which equates to about $458,522 (£390,970) in today’s money, although the rarity will make it worth a lot more if they decide to resell it. This model happens to be a Eurocomp which, according to Time-Line Computer Archive (opens in new tab)is one of only 45 made by Schoppe & Faeser.
PDP 8 was the first mass-produced minicomputer – mini is a very generous label these days. It was also the first computer to sell for less than $20,000, according to the book DEC Is Dead, Long Live DEC: The Lasting Legacy of Digital Equipment Corporation. The PDP 8/e that c-wizz is currently staring down came out in 1970 and was the first of the family to drop below $6,500 (opens in new tab)making it another hugely popular general purpose machine, used as a controller for other equipment.
i_found_ancient_computers_in_the_basement_of_my from r/vintagecomputing
c-wizz plans to contact Time-Line Computer Archive for more information, as they admit they know very little about these machines. “All I know is that my grandfather used it in the ’60s for some civil engineering calculations,” they write in the comments. “He was one of the few people in the country who privately owned such a computer.”
As later comments indicate, owning a computer was indeed rare in the 1960s, and probably places c-wizz’s grandpa in a very privileged 0.01% of employees. Whether that indicates that Grandpa is more than a simple civil engineer, however, has yet to be determined.
Another commenter calls himself another owner of the rare LGP-30, currently undergoing a “prolonged restoration”. These are delicate machines, and they note that if the drum spins in it in the oxidized state it’s probably in today, c-wizz will be “SOL”.
It seems the plan is to try to get the machines up and running again, which, it sounds like, won’t be an easy task. c-wizz also notes, “I’ve found a museum in Germany (where I’m from) that apparently has a working LGP-30. I think I’ll get in touch with them.”