Project DELTA Revived (That's a Lie) - RSTS/E on a PiDP-11/70

In autumn 2018 I purchased a PiDP-11/70 kit whose info is hosted at Obsolescence Guaranteed, and over Christmas finally took the time to build it. If you've ever built a Heathkit or similar, you'll find this to be a piece of cake. It also nicely augments my PiDP-8/I. The PiDP-11/70 can boot into a handful of OSes, not just RSTS/E. Who would have thought those machines would be reduced to a $35 computer sitting on the palm of your hand.

I first used a PDP-11/70 when learning the RSTS/E operating system. I was a high school student programmer at the time for Project DELTA run by the University of Delaware. DELTA is an acronym for DELaware's Total Approach to Computers in Education according to founder Teresa Green.

A 1975 report by F. Neil Walzl provides an in-depth look at the formation of computer education support in public schools in the State of Delaware in the early to mid-1970s. A portion of it deals with Project Delta and some of its history. The pdf at the link above is poor quality. The OCR'd text has been pasted into a LaTeX version of the document. It does not contain the appendices, however, which are very much worth reading. Computer education has changed little. Machines are smaller, cheaper, and more powerful, but in its early stages programming is programming.

To the right is a picture of our club from the 1980 Mt. Pleasant High School year book, probably taken in fall 1979. (I wasn't making the barber rich.) Click on the photo for a bigger version and notice the lightning fast 300 baud DECwriter. That was the entire physical side of the computing experience then, and it was fantastic.

I updated ACCT.SYS with the Project Delta version from 1979 to give it the right feel. :-) Passwords are in plain text. Mine is STANG, in honor of the 1968 Ford Mustang I had back then, that I was forever trying to keep running. Unfortunately, no back ups were made of the Project Delta machine before it was shut down forever, so this is a shadow the heavily modified RSTS/E OS that was Delta but still great fun. There are some programs written by Delta staff members at DECUS RSTS-11 Library Entries. Now I need to read because decades of Unix seem to have almost totally supplanted my RSTS/E know how.

I'll add some words here soon describing how to pull external files into the simulated RSTS/E environment. To the best of my web searching abilities, there are no step by step examples out there, making a relatively straightforward effort a challenge at first.

You can't modify things without using a text editor. Need to brush up on TECO? I sure did. It's alive and well at Tom Almy's page. There is also Paul Cantrell's Video TECO whose source is here. Have fun!

Mike Markowski [90,34]
mike.ab3ap@gmail.com

Some great RSTS reading has been preserved at www.rsts.org.

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