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Mainframes & Minicomputers
Various • 1951

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Prior to the sixties, if you wanted a computer, you'd need a flipping great big room for it, as computers were huge. You'd also need around million dollars. Users would connect to these mainframe computers using a terminal (usually a keyboard with a monitor), which would send instructions to the mainframe.

Minicomputers came along in the mid-sixties, and though not mini by today's standards, they were compared to the mainframe. The cost was a lot less prohibitive and would take up the size of, lets say, a wardrobe.

Although not designed as games machines due to the cost and size, it didn't stop users from creating games on them. Spacewar! – the game which was cloned in the first arcade game, Computer Space – began life on the PDP-1 minicomputer; and the very first adventure game – Adventure (aka Colossal Cave Adventure) started out on the PDP-10 Mainframe.

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If you are interested in emulating very early computers such as mainframes, minicomputers and early microcomputers, we recommend you try SIMH, which describes itself as 'the computer history simulator'.

System Emulator Notes
Various SIMH Non-Windows platform users will have to compile the emulators
Web Browser Spacewar! on a PDP-1 Javascript emulator of a DEC PDP-1 running Spacewar!
Various Hercules Emulator for various IBM Mainframe computers

Emulator information last updated 30th March 2020