ABOUT THE WITCH...
THE ORIGINAL WOFFORD WITCH - 1975 to 1989
The original Wofford Witch was a DEC PDP-11/40 computer, running the RSTS/E timesharing operating system,
and was in operation from 1975 until 1986 in the academic computer center at Wofford College in Spartanburg,
South Carolina. From 1986 to 1989, the Wofford Witch was a PDP-11/34 system.
The academic computer center was created and managed by Dr. Dan W. Olds, who was Chairman of the Physics Department at
the time the Witch came to Wofford.
The Witch was purchased with a grant from a local Spartanburg company, Hoechst Fibers. WITCH is an acronym based on the
phrase "Wofford's Instructional Timesharing Computer from Hoechst". The original configuration cost over $50,000
in the summer of 1975.
View the original Witch purchase order and shipping papers from 1975
The original Witch had core memory, LA36 DecWriters, VT50 DecScopes, ASR-33 Teletypes, an HP7200A Plotter, and RK05 disk drives.
Here is a summary of the original Witch specifications, extracted from the 1975 purchase order:
PDP 11/40 SYSTEM with two VT50 DECscopes, an LA36 console, and another LA36 for the computer room.
|11/40-BK||11/40 16K PAR LA36 115V 60HZ||16,800|
|MF11-UP||16K SEN MEM LOGIC + 16K IMPL||6,300|
|MM11-UP||16K SEN MEM BOARDS ONLY ||5,600|
|KW11-L||REAL TIME CLOCK ||390|
|RK11-DE||CONTROL + 1ST RK05, 115V 60HZ||11,000|
|RK05-AA||1.2M WORD PACK 115V 60HZ||5,100|
|DD11-B||SYSTEM UNIT PREWIRE FOR DF||275|
|DH11-AA||16CH PROG ASYNC MPXR 115V||4,700|
|DM11-DA (2)||LINE ADAPTER $200x2 =||400|
|H960-DA||CABINET W/1 EXPANDER BOX 60HZ||3,000|
|VT50-AA (2)||KBD CRT 20MA 115V 60HZ 1250x2 = ||2,500|
|LA36-CA (1)||DECWRTR II, 20MA, 115V 50/60 HZ ||1,650|
| ||CREDITS ||-16,400|
| ||TOTAL ||50,985|
I have been in correspondence with former DEC employee John McNamara,
the original designer of the DH11 multiplexer, which was used in the
original Wofford Witch system. He sent me a very interesting email with his recollections of the design and
development of the DH11 back in the early 1970s. He gave me permission to reproduce his story here
on my web site.
Read John McNamara's recollections of the development of the DH11 multiplexer
More from John McNamara about the first DH11 install and DH11 diagnostics
Here's a picture from 1978 of the original Wofford Witch system, with (L-R) Ashley, Dr. Olds, Kevin, and Michael
And here's one from 2002 at The Beacon in Spartanburg, after Dr. Olds retired.
This was when we got together after the "Virtual Witch" was reincarnated.
(Back) Ashley Carder, Michael Senterfeit. (Front) Dr. Dan Olds, Kevin Hawkins
During the 1975-1980 years, several students became somewhat obsessed with the Witch and spent many hours learning
the workings of the PDP-11 RSTS/E and Basic Plus environments. Although Wofford College did not offer a Computer
Science degree at the time, the many hours spent on the Wofford Witch laid the groundwork for computer careers
for most of the students in this group. Yes, we owe much of where we are in life today to Dr. Olds and the Wofford Witch.
Members of the original group of Wofford Witch enthusiasts were:
Kevin Hawkins, class of 78
Jeff Smeltzer, class of 78
Worth Burns, class of 80
Ashley Carder, class of 80
Michael Senterfeit, class of 80
Mark Volmer, class of 81
When a water pipe burst in January 1986, the 11/40 was damaged and the Witch was rebuilt using parts from a PDP-11/34.
Read the story of the flood that destroyed the 11/40, as told by Dr. Olds.
On August 26, 1989 the Witch was moved into the hallway and replaced by a more modern VAX.