Rare haul of 'ancient computers' found in grandparents' basement

The PDP 8/e.
(Image credit: MBlairMartin)

Having discovered a bunch of 'ancient computers' in their grandparents' basement, Reddit user c-wizz posted some images of their haul and has since learned just how hot a find these really are. At the risk of sounding like a Millennial (which I am, though I don't identify as one), these PCs really take the biscuit when it comes to computing history. Sure they're not as ancient as the oldest computer ever discovered, but there's some real history being uncovered here.

The computers c-wizz posted about include the LGP-30, which came out in 1956, and that interface looks more akin to a typewriter than any modern machine I've laid eyes on. It came in at an MSRP of $47,000, which equates to around $458,522 (£390,970) in today's money, though the rarity is going to make it worth a heck of a lot more if they decide to sell it on. This model happens to be a Eurocomp which, according to Time-Line Computer Archive, is one of just 45 made by Schoppe & Faeser.

PDP 8 was the first mass-produced minicomputer—mini being a very generous label today. It was also the first computer to be sold for under $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, 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 reach out to Time-Line Computer Archive for more information, as they admit they know very little about these machines. "The only thing I know is that my grandfather used it for some civil engineering calculations in the '60s," they write in the comments. "He was one of only a handful of people in the country that privately owend such a computer."

As subsequent comments point out, owning a computer in the '60s was rare, indeed, and probably puts c-wizz's Grandad in a very privileged 0.01% of workers. Whether that points to Grandad being something more than a simple civil engineer, has yet to be determined, however.

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Another commenter outs themself as another owner of the rare LGP-30, currently undergoing a "long-term restoration." These are delicate machines, and they note that should the drum inside it turn in the oxidised state it's likely to be in today, c-wizz will be "SOL."

It looks like the plan is to try and get the machines up and running again, which by the sound of the above isn't going to be an easy task. c-wizz also notes that "I found a museum in Germany (where I'm from) that apparently has a working LGP-30. I think I'll reach out to them."

Katie Wickens
Hardware Writer

Screw sports, Katie would rather watch Intel, AMD and Nvidia go at it. Having been obsessed with computers and graphics for three long decades, she took Game Art and Design up to Masters level at uni, and has been demystifying tech and science—rather sarcastically—for three years since. She can be found admiring AI advancements, scrambling for scintillating Raspberry Pi projects, preaching cybersecurity awareness, sighing over semiconductors, and gawping at the latest GPU upgrades. She's been heading the PCG Steam Deck content hike, while waiting patiently for her chance to upload her consciousness into the cloud.