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I was playing Remedy Entertainment's video game Control the other day. Inside the game world, I've come across several computers. (They all look extremely similar.) To me, it looks like some kind of DEC system. Now I'm wondering... is it just designed in the style of a DEC? Or is it an actual real-world model? And if so, which one? Perhaps someone more familiar with this stuff can tell me...

enter image description here

  • Which game is it? I suppose it's not an issue to be mentioned. – Krackout Dec 1 '20 at 17:36
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    @Krackout It really should be mentioned in order to properly attribute the screenshot, but searching for the "Cleanse the Benicoff TV" reveals that the game is "Control" by Remedy Entertainment. – user722 Dec 1 '20 at 18:08
  • @RossRidge Yep, it's definitely Control. I guess I should have said that... – MathematicalOrchid Dec 1 '20 at 18:46
  • This looks exactly like the Horoscope computers that used to be at our state fair. They were totally fake of course, with blinking lights provided just for effect. The actual computer was probably the cheapest and smallest thing they could find with a random number generator, hidden away somewhere. – Mark Ransom Dec 2 '20 at 3:21
  • The Tek 503(?) vacuum tube scopes on the right look pretty real. – Brian Drummond Dec 3 '20 at 12:00
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TL;DR:

Is this a real system? Which one?

No, it's most likely not a specific machine but a setup to look contemporary.


In Detail:

I've come across several computers. (They all look extremely similar.)

The usual way of game designers to speed up development: Reuse of props.

[or] is it just designed in the style of a DEC

That seems to be the purpose. All elements are at least smoothed or outright edited/recreated.

Or is it an actual real-world model?

Nop. Even if these were real components, they would be quite unusual one, I mean, 11 CPUs and only tapes for data storage? Even if, they would be mounted in a more accessible way - this is pure random.


What is visible?

It's made up of typical PDP elements but in rather random order and mixture. There are for example:

  • three PDP-12 front panels (the ones with a keyboard like 'table', two of them with a screen atop)
  • four boxes that seem like PDP-8f, but edited (the black/orange boxes.
  • four boxes that may be based on a PDP-11/04 or 11/34 with programmers console (or PDP-8a) but quite heavy edited (the ones with a black front and a keypad to the left).
  • three TU56 dual DECtape
  • one (again edited) TU-60 cassette drive (top of second last rack), which is interesting, as it's a rather rare device.
  • The grey boxes with cables seem to be either I/O interfaces for some process/lab control, Or maybe some terminal interface - I'm not really remember any name here.

Long story short, it's most definite made to represent a DEC(ish) machine, but its parts do not make much sense. The game designer took (or found) some pictures edited (or recreated) them and used the result to 'build' the setup.


Bonus Content:

There are some oscilloscopes on the right side which look much like classic Tektronics. The lower one might be a 555 or 556. The one above might be a 564. Again both are rather edited. The 555/6 should have a rather bulky power supply below. The cart holding them is again heavy edited, but rather true to the design of carts supplied by Tektronics.

Looking close, I start to appreciate the time the artist did spend to model these items in a way capturing the essence. Would be interesting (although not really RC.SE related) to see the whole setup. Maybe add a wider picture?

In addition, scopes are not exactly a to be found in a computing room. At least not a setup that expensive.

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    And that color scheme is recognizable... – Jon Custer Nov 30 '20 at 22:46
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    Now for extra credit identify the 'scopes on the rack at the right ... They look like Tek to me ... – davidbak Nov 30 '20 at 23:04
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    @davidbak Here you go ... :)) – Raffzahn Nov 30 '20 at 23:36
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    Oscilloscopes might not usually be found in computing rooms, but low-end PDPs were commonly found in scientific/engineering contexts as data acquisition processors. So finding a PDP or two and a stack of oscilloscopes together might not be as incongruous as you think. – Chromatix Dec 1 '20 at 3:49
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    In-game, these all appear inside what's supposed to be some sort of physics lab, so... – MathematicalOrchid Dec 1 '20 at 12:41
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As @Raffzahn answers, this is probably a concocted image made to look like various real DEC setups. The attached image is of a PDP-12. You can see the heavy tilt towards DECtapes. You also see an object in the lower image that might be an oscilloscope.

enter image description here

(Image taken from Ed Thelens great site)

  • Ah, so it did come in orange as well? The only picture Wikipedia has shows bright green... – MathematicalOrchid Dec 2 '20 at 9:08
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    PDP-8s also came in the same orange colour – cup Dec 2 '20 at 9:31
  • From what I recall, the -8 and the -12 are very similar machines. – OmarL Dec 2 '20 at 10:59
  • The -12 looks like it was derived from the -8 and the LINC. I know nothing about the LINC, but I figure it's about Lincoln Laboratories. I remember LINCtape inspired DECtape. – Walter Mitty Dec 2 '20 at 19:31
  • So you could get rack-mount DECtape holders? I guess it's convenient and it would otherwise have been a blank panel cover anyway ... maybe the DEC salesman threw it in as a freebie if your order was large enough ... – davidbak Dec 2 '20 at 22:29

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