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The TX-0, for ''Transistorized Experimental computer zero'', but affectionately referred to as tixo (pronounced "tix oh"), was an early fully
transistor upright=1.4, gate Candi bentar, a typical Indonesian gate that is often found on the islands of Java">Indonesia.html" ;"title="Candi bentar, a typical Indonesia">Candi bentar, a typical Indonesian gate that is often found on the islands o ...

transistor
ized computer and contained a then-huge 64 K of 18-bit words of magnetic
core memory Core or cores may refer to: Science and technology * Core (anatomy) In common parlance, the core of the body is broadly considered to be the torso. Functional movements are highly dependent on this part of the body, and lack of core muscular de ...
. Construction of the TX-0 began in 1955 and ended in 1956.Highlights from ''The Computer Museum Report'' Volume 8 Spring 1984
The Computer Museum, Boston, MA, archived at ed-thelen.org, retrieved 2010-2-19
It was used continually through the 1960s at
MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private land-grant research university A research university is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, hi ...
. The TX-0 incorporated around 3,600
Philco Philco (founded as Helios Electric Company, renamed Philadelphia Storage Battery Company) was a pioneer in battery, radio, and television production. In 1961 the company was purchased by Ford Ford commonly refers to: * Ford Motor Company T ...
high-frequency
surface-barrier transistor The surface-barrier transistor is a type of transistor developed by Philco in 1953 as an improvement to the alloy-junction transistor and the earlier point-contact transistor. Like the modern Schottky transistor, it offered much higher speed than e ...
s, the first transistor suitable for high-speed computers. The TX-0 and its direct descendant, the original
PDP-1 The PDP-1 (''Programmed Data Processor-1'') is the first computer in Digital Equipment Corporation's Programmed Data Processor, PDP series and was first produced in 1959. It is famous for being the computer most important in the creation of hacker ...

PDP-1
, were platforms for pioneering computer research and the development of what would later be called computer "
hacker A hacker is a person skilled in information technology who uses their technical knowledge to achieve a goal or overcome an obstacle, within a computerized system by non-standard means. Though the term ''hacker'' has become associated in popul ...

hacker
" culture.


Background

Designed at the
MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private land-grant research university A research university is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, hi ...
Lincoln Laboratory The MIT Lincoln Laboratory, located in Lexington, Massachusetts, is a United States Department of Defense federally funded research and development center chartered to apply advanced technology to problems of national security. Research and d ...
largely as an experiment in
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transistor
ized design and the construction of very large core memory systems, the TX-0 was essentially a transistorized version of the equally famous
Whirlwind A whirlwind is a weather phenomenon in which a vortex , revealed by colored smoke In fluid dynamics In physics and engineering, fluid dynamics is a subdiscipline of fluid mechanics that describes the flow of fluids—liquids and gases. ...
, also built at Lincoln Lab. While the Whirlwind filled an entire floor of a large building, TX-0 fit in a single reasonably sized room and yet was somewhat faster. Like the Whirlwind, the TX-0 was equipped with a
vector display A vector monitor, vector display, or calligraphic display is a display device s, LED display and Vacuum fluorescent display, VF display, top to bottom. A display device is an output device for presentation of information in visual or Touch, tac ...
system, consisting of a 12"
oscilloscope An oscilloscope, previously called an oscillograph, and informally known as a scope or o-scope, CRO (for cathode-ray oscilloscope), or DSO (for the more modern digital storage oscilloscope A digital storage oscilloscope (DSO) is an oscillosco ...

oscilloscope
with a working area of 7 by 7 inches connected to the 18-bit output
register A register is an authoritative list of one kind of information. Register or registration may refer to: Arts entertainment, and media Music * Register (music), the relative "height" or range of a note, melody, part, instrument, etc. * ''Regis ...
of the computer, allowing it to display points and vectors with a resolution up to 512×512 screen locations. The TX-0 was an 18-bit computer with a 16-bit address range. First two bits of machine word designate instruction and remaining 16 bits are used to specify memory location or operand for special "operate" instruction. First two bits could create four possible instructions, which included store, add, and conditional branch instructions as a basic set. The fourth instruction, "operate", took additional operands and allowed access to a number of "micro-orders" which could be used separately or together to provide many other useful instructions. An "add" instruction took 10
microseconds A microsecond is an SI unit of time equal to one millionth (0.000001 or 10−6 or ) of a second The second (symbol: s, abbreviation: sec) is the SI base unit, base unit of time in the International System of Units (SI) (French: Système In ...
. Wesley A. Clark designed the logic and
Ken Olsen Kenneth Harry "Ken" Olsen (February 20, 1926 – February 6, 2011) was an American engineer who co-founded Digital Equipment Corporation Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC ), using the trademark Digital, was a major American company in the c ...
oversaw the engineering development.


Development

With the successful completion of the TX-0, work turned immediately to the much larger and far more complex TX-1. However this project soon ran into difficulties due to its complexity, and was redesigned into a smaller form that would eventually be delivered as the
TX-2 The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT Lincoln Laboratory TX-2 computer was the successor to the Lincoln TX-0 and was known for its role in advancing both artificial intelligence and human–computer interaction. Wesley A. Clark was the c ...
in 1958. Since core memory was very expensive at the time, several parts of the TX-0 memory were cannibalized for the TX-2 project. After a time, the TX-0 was no longer considered worth keeping at Lincoln Lab, and was "loaned" (semi-permanently) to the MIT Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE) in July 1958, where it became a centerpiece of research that would eventually evolve into the
MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) is a research institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) formed by the 2003 merger of the Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS) and the Artificial Intelligence ...
and the original computer "
hacker A hacker is a person skilled in information technology who uses their technical knowledge to achieve a goal or overcome an obstacle, within a computerized system by non-standard means. Though the term ''hacker'' has become associated in popul ...

hacker
" culture. Delivered from Lincoln Laboratory with only 4K of core, the machine no longer needed 16 bits to represent a storage address. After about a year and a half, the number of instruction bits was doubled to four, allowing a total of 16 instructions, and an
index register An index register in a computer's CPU A central processing unit (CPU), also called a central processor, main processor or just processor, is the electronic circuit File:PExdcr01CJC.jpg, 200px, A circuit built on a printed circuit board (PC ...
was added. This dramatically improved programmability of the machine, but still left room for a later memory expansion to 8K (the four instruction bits and one-bit indexing flag left 13 bits for addressing). This newly modified TX-0 was used to develop a huge number of advances in computing, including
speech Speech is human vocal communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''c ...

speech
and
handwriting recognition Handwriting recognition (HWR), also known as Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR), is the ability of a computer to receive and interpret intelligible handwritten input from sources such as paper Paper is a thin sheet material produced by mecha ...
, as well as the tools needed to work on such projects, including
text editor A text editor is a type of computer program In imperative programming, a computer program is a sequence of instructions in a programming language that a computer can execute or interpret. In declarative programming, a ''computer program'' is ...

text editor
s and
debugger A debugger or debugging tool is a computer program In imperative programming, a computer program is a sequence of instructions in a programming language that a computer can execute or interpret. In declarative programming, a ''computer progra ...

debugger
s. Meanwhile the TX-2 project was running into difficulties of its own, and several team members decided to leave the project at Lincoln Lab and start their own company -
Digital Equipment Corporation Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC ), using the trademark A trademark (also written trade mark or trade-mark) is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights ...
(DEC).


Legacy

After a short time selling "lab modules" in the form of simple logic elements from the TX-2 design, the newly formed Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) decided to produce a "cleaned up" TX-0 design, and delivered it in 1961 as the
PDP-1 The PDP-1 (''Programmed Data Processor-1'') is the first computer in Digital Equipment Corporation's Programmed Data Processor, PDP series and was first produced in 1959. It is famous for being the computer most important in the creation of hacker ...

PDP-1
. A year later, DEC donated the engineering prototype PDP-1 machine to MIT. It was installed in the room next to TX-0, and the two machines would run side-by-side for almost a decade. Significant pieces of the TX-0 are held by MIT Lincoln Laboratory. In 1983, the TX-0 was still running and is shown running a maze application in th
first episode
of
Computer Chronicles ''Computer Chronicles'' was an American half-hour television series, broadcast from 1983 to 2002 on Public Broadcasting Service The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is an American public broadcaster and television program distributor. ...
. As part of its use in artificial intelligence research, the computer was used to write simple western playlets and was featured in the 1961 CBS television documentary "The Thinking Machine", and in the companion book by John Pfeiffer of the same title published by the JB Lippincott Company in 1962.


See also

* Expensive Desk Calculator *
Expensive Tape Recorder Expensive Tape Recorder is a digital audio Digital audio is a representation of sound recorded in, or converted into, Digital signal (signal processing), digital form. In digital audio, the sound wave of the audio signal is typically encoded a ...
*
Early history of video games The history of video games spans a period of time between the invention of the first electronic games and today, covering many inventions and developments. Video game, Video gaming reached mainstream popularity in the 1970s and 1980s, when arcad ...
— early video games invented on the TX-0


References


External links


RLE Technical Report 627 TX-0 Computer History (Oct 1974)

Oral history interview with Jack B. Dennis
Charles Babbage Institute The Charles Babbage Institute is a research center at the University of Minnesota The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (the U of M or Minnesota) is a public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university in the Mi ...
, University of Minnesota. — Dennis describes his educational background and work in time-sharing computer systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), including the TX-0 computer, the work of
John McCarthyJohn McCarthy may refer to: Government * John George MacCarthy (1829–1892), Member of Parliament for Mallow constituency, 1874–1880 * John McCarthy (Irish politician) (1862–1893), Member of Parliament for the Mid Tipperary constituency, 189 ...
on time-sharing, and the development of
Multics Multics ("Multiplexed Information and Computing Service") is an influential early time-sharing In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experi ...

Multics
at General Electric.
The TX-0: Its Past and Present

TX-0 documentation

TX-0 programs
*
Steven Levy Steven Levy (born 1951) is an American journalist who has written several books on computers, technology, cryptography Cryptography, or cryptology (from grc, , translit=kryptós "hidden, secret"; and ''graphein'', "to write", or ''-lo ...

Steven Levy
, '' Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution'' * — Website dedicated to information about the TX-0 computer. ebsite partially working when checked* {{Cite web, url=http://ethw.org/Archives:The_Computer_Pioneers:_The_TX-0, title=Archives:The Computer Pioneers: The TX-0 - Engineering and Technology History Wiki, date=November 13, 1983, website=ethw.org, language=en, others=Development of the TX-0 at MIT - participants include Doug Ross and Harrison (Dit) Morse, Electronic Systems Group alumni, interview conducted by Gordon Bell., access-date=2017-12-07 One-of-a-kind computers Transistorized computers 18-bit computers