The term "minicomputer"evolved in the 1960s to describe the smaller computers that became possible with the use of transistors and core memory technologies, minimal instructions sets and less expensive peripherals such as the Teletype Model 33 ASR. They usually took up one or a few 19-inch rack cabinets, compared with the large mainframes that could fill a room.

In a 1970 survey, the New York Times suggested a consensus definition of a minicomputer as a machine costing less than 25 000 USD, with an input-output device such as a teleprinter and at least 4K words of memory, that is capable of running programs in a higher level language, such as Fortran or Basic.

The first minicomputer was created in the USSR in 1958–1962. The computer, designated UM-1NKh, was produced at the Leningrad Electromechanical Plant (LEMZ) from 1963. The first successful Western minicomputer was Digital Equipment Corporation's 12-bit PDP-8, which was built using discrete transistors and cost from US$16,000 upwards when launched in 1964. Later versions of the PDP-8 took advantage of small-scale integrated circuits. The important precursors of the PDP-8 include the PDP-5, LINC, the TX-0, the TX-2, and the PDP-1. Digital Equipment gave rise to a number of minicomputer companies along Massachusetts Route 128, including Data General, Wang Laboratories, Apollo Computer, Computervision, Honeywell, and Prime Computer.

Below is a list of some Minicomputers in our collection:


DEC PDP and VAX series

Data General Nova

Hewlett-Packard HP 3000 series, HP 2100 series, HP1000 series.

Honeywell-Bull Level 6/DPS

IBM midrange computers (IBM 36/38)

Prime Computer Prime 50 series

Texas Instruments TI-990

Wang Laboratories 2200 and VS series