Tiny 3D-Printed DEC VT-102 Hides a Fully-Functional, ESP32-Powered PDP-11 Minicomputer

A tiny screen and a 3D-printed chassis brings some of Digital’s fondest-remembered hardware up to date — and down in scale.

Jeroen “Sprite_tm” Domburg has been working on a build with a difference: It’s an ultra-compact replica of a Digital DEC VT-102 terminal, emulating a PDP-11 running 2.11BSD — all on the top of an Espressif ESP32 microcontroller.

“The thing that attracted me to the PDP11 is that the PDP line in general always has been a family of ‘hackers’ machines,'” Sprite_tm explains. “Its members were cheap enough to allow people to do fun stuff on, and for instance the first computer game, SpaceWar!, was written on a PDP1. It wouldn’t be the last game written on a PDP machine, though: Apart from the aforementioned arcade games, all the way in Russia on a cloned PDP-11, Russian software engineer Alexey Pajitnov wrote a certain title called ‘Tetris,’ which later was spread all over the world.”

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