Physical PDP-11/70 panels

BlinkenBone physical PDP-11/70 panels

The console panels of early PDP’s have always attracted people: Their clean minimalistic layouts colored in psychedelic purple colors presents (to my opinion) one of the best ‘70s industrial designs. Is it just me, or is there really a subtle connection to Pink Floyd’s music?


Though most of the old mainframes have been scrapped, many of their consoles survived. This is because they are the most personalized part of a computer and they are not too difficult to store over long times.

Everybody likes them, some play around with them. People connected them to webserver, or installed networked interfaces, or simply controlled them with massive parallel I/O cards.

The PDP-11/70 is the most complex PDP-11 panel. Since I first got my PDP-11/70 panel around 2009, it kept me constantly busy:

  • First I connected it over an USB I/O device to my PC.
  • After some try and error this finally leads to BlinkenBone later.
  • I also wrote an adapter software ("Blinkenlight API server") to connect Oscar Vermeulens "PiDP11" replica to my SimH modification.
  • For a VCF convention in Seattle, I had to reduce my BlinkenBone 11/70 in size and weight and also cleanup its physical layout.
  • For enhanced simulation fidelity, we could gather data from the real PDP-11/70 "Miss Piggy" at the Living Computer History museum in Seattle.