Pantone color values for the old Digital/DEC PDP-11 computers...
July 12, 2015 6:24 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have good matches for the Fuscia/Magenta-ish colors used by DEC for their (very) old PDP series of computers? I'm trying to use the colors and am looking for near matches. Optimally, I'd love to find what DEC themselves would have used for promotional materials, as well as paint mixture codes if I wanted to paint stripes of matching colors on my walls. ;)
posted by BleuLlama to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Perhaps someone near the Computer Museum in San Jose can match some swatches to their PDP.
posted by tremspeed at 6:41 PM on July 12, 2015

There are online resources available to help you.

Pantone Colours show you examples of colors where you can choose the closest match.

Ginifab allows you to upload an image and it'll try to find the color for you.

Pantone's own color finder will find the color for you if you have the color name or number.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 6:54 PM on July 12, 2015

The Internet Archive has a large number of documents related to DEC (and many related to the PDP-11) but most of them seemed to be scanned in greyscale and I didn't find any that referred specifically to the color choices but you could poke around some. If your profile info is correct, this one in NYC might be worth going to check out or that guy seems like someone who would enjoy this question and could maybe help. This guy also seems to have all the handbooks and could maybe offer some assistance. Assume you saw this thread and this (which references bitsavers which is the stuff at least partly at the Archive).
posted by jessamyn at 6:54 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Like the color shown here?
posted by GuyZero at 8:21 PM on July 12, 2015

I think that the colors in question are the ones from the "Bob Palmer logo", not the earlier blue. Per the link Jessamyn found, it predates the modern Pantone system and thus probably doesn't match any one exactly.

This page about various DEC trademarks might be worthwhile; it has a color version of the magenta logo on it. If you just wanted something for screen (as opposed to print) use, you could sample that, if you find it to be "close enough". It doesn't look to be an exact match to the real DEC colors to my eyes, but it's not terrible either.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:29 PM on July 12, 2015

The relevant engineering document is here. The PDP-11 colors are listed in Section 5- Digital Color List, Table 5-1 as Brite Rose (CHM 8 NA), Magenta (CHM 9 PA) and Morris Maroon (MUN (7.5R2/8)). MUN is likely Munsell- I can't identify CHM.

As a long shot, the standard is authored by the fantastically named Art Clockedile. Art appears to still be active on DEC Connection, but I'd hesitate to bother him about trivial things like paint codes from 33 years ago.
posted by zamboni at 10:06 PM on July 12, 2015 [8 favorites]

CHM is Color Harmony Manual, a bunch of paint chips / reference representing the Ostwald Color System. (Found it by googling "CHM munsell".)

Brite Rose 8 NA and Magenta 9 PA are points in the Ostwald Color System. There's some stuff online about it and it should be possible to determine how to convert them into Munsell/Pantone/etc.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:03 AM on July 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

This lovely page on notation in color systems may help understanding what the NA and PA bits mean. Ostwald is a bit like HSL color. PA means use the pure reference hue color, in this case Ostwald's version of Magenta aka '9' not mixed with white or black, NA is the reference color '8' (some hue of red) mixed with a small bit of white.

I would carefully eyeball it like the folks in the print/paint shop did once they got handed some color chips.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:44 AM on July 13, 2015

Colorimetric Specification of the Color Harmony Manual from Spectrophotometric Measurements has CIE 1931 measurements for the Color Harmony Manual, measured on the matte side of the films.

Values given are Tristimulus specification (XYZ), trichromatic coefficients(xy), dominant wave-length (DWL), and percent excitation purity (p). Illuminant C was used.

Hue 8 NA is
X=.2342 Y=.1492 Z=.1382 x=.4490 y=.2860 DWL(mμ)=493.6c p=38.1
Hue 9 PA is
X=.1577 Y=.1022 Z=.1490 x=.3857 y=.2499 DWL(mμ)=502.0 c p=41.0
posted by zamboni at 6:44 AM on July 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Something else that turned up while I was poking around looking for the specifications is a later document on touchup paint colors - it's from 1998, so no PDP11 info.
System Paint
Copyright (c) Digital Equipment Corporation 1998. All rights reserved.
U.S. Area Information Center
QRL, Quick Reference List
Supplies: PAINT, for PDP and VAXES
Updated: 16-APR-1998 Article Expiration Date: 27-MAY-2000
Part Description: DEC Part

Paints are ordered from Randolf Products
Harlestat, NJ
Specify Product type, Randolf Products will provide color match.
End Note:
Paint (Lacquer), Touch-up, Aerosol,Gray 49-01524-01
Paint (Lacquer), Touch-up, Aerosol,Old Digital Blue/gray 49-01524-02
Paint (Lacquer), Touch-up, Aerosol,Black 49-01524-03
Paint (Lacquer), Touch-up, Aerosol,End Panel Grey 49-01524-04
Paint (Lacquer), Touch-up, Aerosol,Bright Copen Blue 49-01524-05
Paint (Lacquer), Touch-up, Aerosol,Terra Cotta 49-01524-06
Paint (Lacquer), Touch-up, Aerosol,Scale Grey 49-01524-07
Paint (Lacquer), Touch-up, Aerosol,Blasi Blue 49-01524-08
Paint (Lacquer), Touch-up, Aerosol,Topaz 49-01524-09
Paint (Lacquer), Touch-up, Aerosol,Mullen Blue 49-01524-10
Paint (Lacquer), Touch-up, Aerosol,Perferred Red 49-01524-11
Paint (Lacquer), Touch-up, Aerosol,Digital Brown 49-01524-12
Paint (Lacquer), Touch-up, Aerosol,Charcoal 49-01524-13
Paint (Lacquer), Touch-up, Aerosol,Mid-Range Gray 49-01524-14
Paint (Lacquer), Touch-up, Aerosol,Mid,Dark Gray 49-01524-15
The list is probably only of limited interest. Randolph Products still exists, but seem to have got out of the general paint market, and may not have any records from that time. They were located in Carlstadt, not Harlestat, NJ, so there may be other transcription errors in the paint list.
posted by zamboni at 8:57 AM on July 13, 2015

I'm that guy in NYC jessamyn referred to. I have a new-in-box panel from the top of a PDP-11/34 and TM-11 rack -- it looks much more purple in real life and more vibrant than the one that is currently on the machine. If you want to bring some swatches to compare against, get in touch!
posted by autopilot at 6:16 PM on July 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

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