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Where to get PDP-11's and parts:

bulletkeep an eye on alt.sys.pdp11 a.k.a. the info-pdp11 mailing list. Some time back there was an announcement that said, in effect: "I've got to clear all these old VAXes and PDP-11's out of here before the carpenters arrive. Somebody rent a truck and come get this stuff quick, or I'll have to toss it in the dumpster."
 
bulletClassicCmp: a very active email list for all sorts of computers that are at least 10 years old. Free equipment, trade offers, and "for sales" are fairly common here also.
 
bullet eBay. The best general source for PDP-11 parts. In one month I bought the following on eBay:
bulletKDJ11-SD for $5
bulletRQDX3 for  $10
bulletDELQSA for $8.50
bulletMSV11-JE (2 meg PMI RAM card for my 11/83) for $8.
 
bulletUsed parts distributors:
bulletArclight -- one of my favorites
bulletKeyways -- pricey, but he has the stuff
bulletUS Computer Exchange -- smaller inventory, but good prices. More recently it looks like they are not replenishing their PDP-11 inventory.
bullet System Resale
bulletJT Computer -- sometimes cheap, sometimes expensive
bulletDiscount Computer Peripherals -- expensive
bulletCalifornia Digital: H9281 card cage for $9 (although he can't find them, they are lost in the warehouse) (update -- he found them, but wants a larger order to make it worth his while)

It's been a while since I've used many of these -- inventories may have changed.

Dealers are trying to make a living by doing this, so they have to charge often more than what the hobbyist can afford. When you go to a used DEC dealer, you are competing with the likes of Lockheed, refineries, the military, and other large organizations that are still running factories and other mission critical systems with PDP-11s. But on older, less in-demand parts, and parts that are plentiful, they can sometimes be pretty reasonable. Also, you can sometimes work out a trade with a dealer. I have heard that you need to beware of sharp business practices with some of these. I have had nothing but good experiences with Arclight, Keyways, and USCE.

Some people are located near surplus dealers where you can go browse around a warehouse of scrap computer stuff (or sometimes outdoors). I don't know anything about it, because I don't have the right location or time for that.

Use the PDP-11 Field Guide to tell you what's what.

 

 

Last modified: December 31, 2009