The Pocket DEC Pretender (PDP) Zero

PDP (Pocket DEC Pretender) Zero: lettering came out a bit more, um,  artisanal than I’d hoped …

Digital (aka DEC) used to make some very solid minicomputers back when a minicomputer was fridge-sized and people were still building nuclear power stations to be controlled by them. The Raspberry Pi Zero is a very mini computer indeed, and in USB gadget mode running SimH it makes a nice little emulation platform.

The case is from Thingiverse: One Piece Raspberry Pi Zero + Camera Case (with GPIO) by Superrei, but with the DEC PDP logo in relief on the top.

DEC minis were famous for their arrays of blinkenlights. The Pocket DEC Pretender, not so much: it has one tiny green light that flickers a bit now and again:

PDP (Pocket DEC Pretender) Zero: case open, very few blinkenlights

But it’s a genuinely useful (for my values of useful) emulation platform. Here it is pretending to be a PDP-8, running BASIC under OS-8:

PDP (Pocket DEC Pretender) Zero: PDP-8 BASIC!

(background in case pictures woven in Toronto by Deftly Weft)

TYPE BANG: First Person Shooter, 1975 style

— from the source code of an early (1975) time-shared system version of The Oregon Trail, as documented in On the Trail of the Oregon Trail.

Library Hand – Disjoint

LibHandDis — Based on scans of “Library Hand – Disjoint”, described in Dana’s A Library Primer, with some modifications.

Major changes from scan:

  • As the scan only covered A-Z, a-z, 0-9 and ‘&’, I had to make the rest up.
  • Many of the descenders had to be shortened to fit with modern typography conventions.
  • Kerning is much tighter than Dana’s guidelines suggest.

(idea for this came via MetaFilter, This question of library handwriting is an exceedingly practical one)

Local copy:

The punctuation is a farce, the kerning is ropey – but here’s my attempt at Dana’s Library Hand

The punctuation is a farce, the kerning is ropey – but here’s my attempt at Dana’s Library Hand

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a font for the person you’re just dotty about

LoveMatrix is a lo-fi dot matrix font made of ♥♥♥s. It’s a seasonally-adjusted version of my mnicmp font.

Local copy:

more geometry to colour in

Click on image to download as PDF

based on the main repeating pattern from a Pierced Window Screen at The Metropolitan Museum of Art — particularly this image.

mnicmp: the DECwriter lives again!

I just made and uploaded this to FontLibrary: mnicmp.

This is meant more as an exercise in learning FontForge‘s programming back-end, and definitely showed me that FontForge is incredibly powerful. After the learning comes silliness, so I ended up turning the dots into something like:

I learned you really have to consider a dot-matrix font to be an array of points rather than a glyph, because otherwise you get the dots coming out the wrong sort of oval:

Blue font has been italicized as a whole, while the black dots were done properly

You don’t want to know what it did to the stars …

Local archive:

awaiting surgery

Seems I have two Macintosh PowerBook 180s: one has a dead colour screen but seems to boot fine, and the other (the one screenshotted above; yay ⌘+Shift+3 and enough room on the boot floppy …) has a lovely greyscale screen but a dead hard drive. I suspect we’re going to have to do a head transplant.

And no, I’m not having ¼-century 68030+68882 wish fulfillment one bit