Incompatible Timesharing System

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The Incompatible Timesharing System (usually ITS) was an early time-sharing operating system; initially for the PDP-6, and later for PDP-10's. It was developed at MIT in the Artifical Intellegence Lab, after Multics was done by Project MAC. It first became operational in July, 1967, after a very short design and implementation period, starting earlier that year.

The KL10 MC machine at MIT

The earliest versions ran on the PDP-6, using the base and bounds memory management hardware native to that machine. Later versions ran on KA10s which were modified with MIT-designed and built paging hardware (which that generation of PDP-10 did not have); it later ran on the KL10 and KS10 as well.

ITS was one of the first OS's connected to the ARPANET, and it was on an ITS system that the first versions of Emacs, Zork, MACLISP, and Scheme were created.

During much of its operational lifetime, ITS ran on only a handful of machines:

  • The AI Lab PDP-6 (the Dynamic Modeling group briefly had a PDP-6)
  • Three KA10s: AI, DM, ML
  • One KL10: MC

Due to failing hardware, the PDP-6 was shut down in the late 1970s, and physically removed in the early 1980s. The KA10s followed shortly after, but some were replaced with KS10s. By 1990 all MIT machines were shut down permanently.

In modern times, ITS runs on a KS10 at the Living Computers museum; it was previously named MIT-AI. The museum also has the KL10 MIT-MC in storage. ITS also runs on several software emulators.

Some information on installing & images can be found here.

Output from the PEEK program


  • 1967 - First version for PDP-6
  • ~1968 - Ported to KA10
  • 1969 - Second PDP-6 at Dynamic Modeling group
  • 1970 - Second KA10 at Dynamic Modeling group
  • 1971 - Connected to ARPANET, version ~670
  • 1972 - Third KA10 at Mathlab group
  • 1975 - Ported to KL10, version 915
  • 1978 - PDP-6 support dropped, version 1115
  • 1984 - All KA10 machines shut down, first KS10 arrives
  • 1985 - Ported to KS10, version 1488, three more KS10s
  • 1986 - KS ITS distributed outside MIT (SI, FU, PM, DX)
  • 1988 - KL10 machine shut down
  • 1990 - All MIT KS10 machines shut down; last MIT version 1644
  • 1992 - First run on KS10 software simulator
  • 2001 - First simulator available on Internet
  • 2010 - First run on an FPGA PDP-10 implementation
  • 2017 - First run on KA10 software simulator

See also

External links