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Character Information
Common Names PDP-1
Other Names Programmable Data Processor-1
Human Name(s) Penelope Olsen (Penelope Gurley has also been suggested)
Faction Formerly of the DEC Military, currently Binteeji Renmei
Lineage MIT Society via Whirlwind and TX-0; founder of the DECs
Rival(s) IBM mainframes
Height 137cm (4'6)
Hair Color Blonde
Eye Color Blue
Weapon(s) Slingshot
First Appearance Jan. 2010
Technical Information
System Personified PDP-1
Developer(s) Digital Equipment Corporation
Debut 1959
Latest release 1969

Technical details

A product of MIT's TX-0 (and earlier Whirlwind) project, the PDP-1 is an early influential mainframe computer. It is known as being the ancestor of the PDP computer line and influencing many minicomputers of the 1960s. Among its contributions to and firsts in computing: being one of the smallest and cheapest computers of its day, implementing the first commercially available graphics terminal and first word-processing programs, computer games, and being used to create electronic music. 53 units were sold – the first going to MIT – and as late as 1970, all were reported to be still in use.

Three PDP-1 units still exist, all residing in the Computer History Museum's collection.

Character details


PDP-1 is a small preadolescent girl with blonde hair typically tied into twin buns and blue eyes. She wears round glasses, a blue and white uniform and carries a slingshot. She has an innocent, child-like attitude, but is notoriously feisty, as evidenced by her great tenacity and resourcefulness. She's nonviolent for the most part but not above stirring up a row with another OS-tan – IBMs and other large mainframes are a favorite target of hers'.

Favourites include gaming, writing and playing baroque classical pieces on the piano, as well as model railroading and amateur electronics.

History and background

PDP-1 is the daughter of Whirlwind, younger sister of SAGE and TX-0 and elder sister of CTSS. The first DEC-tan, she was born in Maynard in the late 1950s and debuted in Boston in 1959, where she subsequently lived with her mother and sister. The pet of the MIT computer department, she forged many friendships with students and professors who relished teaching the clever girl new things. Her relationship with Whirlwind was affectionate and close but she was more distant from two of her three sisters; CTSS running in an entirely different group and SAGE living far away for the most part (on the occasions she did meet with SAGE she tended to treat her with curiosity and mock-rivalry; looking at her sibling as a sort of archetypal brooding big sis in need of some lightening-up). PDP-1 and TX-0-tan had a close relationship, both emotionally and geographically - the two girls were best of friends and ran in the same social circle.

She became fast friends with the younger generation of MIT OS-tans, ironically becoming a sort of universal “little sister” to all.

Her duties were also required at DEC. The mother of the PDP family, she also became the matriarch of all DEC-tans – hardwares and OSes alike. PDP-1's determination led her tiny nation to many early victories – notably against the IBM hegemony. Their successes inspired many nascent tribes to take aim at the established hierarchy and marked a shift in computer society; one that would result in the eventual overthrow of the Mainframes.

In 1973 Whirlwind and CTSS died; PDP-1 was devastated but accepting of their fates, and it had little permanent impact on her optimistic outlook. Even as her usefulness was eclipsed by more powerful computer-tans, she remained a beloved figure and stepped into a comfortable retirement. A honourary member of the Bintenji Renmei, she chooses to live separate from the group; instead, residing in a community of vintage computers in California. She often visits her fellow DEC-tans and continues to hunt for SAGE, in hopes of reuniting her entire family.