The following details come from the PDP-8/E and PDP-8/M Small Computer Handbook 1972, scans of which are available on Highgate’s PDP-8 Page.

VT05 Alphanumeric Display Terminal

The VT05 is a flexible, high-performance alphanumeric display terminal with a video cathode ray tube display and communications equipment. It is capable of transmitting data over standard phone lines and data sets in half or full duplex modes at rates up to 300 Baud. For remote users, the VT05 serves as a non-mechanical terminal that handles data speeds many times faster than that of conventional teletypewriters. If desired, the alphanumerics can be superimposed on a background video image derived from a closed circuit TV camera or video tape player.

For user convenience, the VT05 display includes the following outstanding features:

The VT05 Alphanumeric Display Terminal can be controlled by the KL8-E, EA, EB, EC or the DC02-FB, DC02-G and BC01A-25. The same program used with the Teletype units is used with the VT05 display.


Screen Size—10⅛" × 7⅝"
Character Display Area—8¾" × 6⅝"
Number of Lines—20
Number of Characters Displayable—1440
Contrast Ratio—12:1
Type of Phosphor—P4 (white)
Deflection Type—Magnetic
Deflection Method—Raster Scan
Character Generation Method—5 × 7 dot matrix
Character Generator—Read Only Memory (ROM)
Refresh Buffer—MOS Memory
Memory Size:
ROM—2240 bits
Refresh Buffer—9816 bits
Display Refresh Rate—60 times/sec or 50 times/sec synchronized to power line frequency
Character Set—Upper case ASCII
Character Size—0.23" × 0.11"
Cursor—Non-destructive, blinking (underline)
Standard EIA-compatible signal
Type—Electronic (wafer switch)
Standard model Teletype layout
Character Set—Selectable (upper case, standard ASCII; upper/lower case, full ASCII)
Cursor —Up, down, left, right, home up
—Direct addressing, Tab
Erase —To end of line, to end of frame
Erase Lock —Prevents inadvertent erasure
Power —On, off
Mode —Remote, local
Transmission —Full, half duplex
Weight—55 lbs.
Heat Dissipation—800 BTU/hr. maximum
Operating Temperature—40°-100i°F, 4.4°-37.8°C
Humidity—10 to 95%
VT05-A: 95-130 VAC, 60 Hz ± 2 Hz, single phase
VT05-B: 190-260 VAC, 60 Hz ± 2 Hz
VT05-C: 95-130 VAC, 50 Hz ± 2 Hz
VT05-D: 190-260 VAC, 50 Hz ± 2 Hz
Power Consumption—130 watts
Type—Crystal-controlled, selectable speed; send/receive 110, 150, 300 Baud


General-Purpose Timesharing

Timesharing systems are pioneering a new way of life in many scientific and technical disciplines. The time spent by professional workers at the terminal in dialog with a computer is critical productivity time. The obviously strong need for terminal equipment that increases this productivity is satisfied by the VT05 Alphanumeric Display Terminal. It is designed to make the professional’s “on-line” time totally useful. Also, its selectable transmission speeds allow terminal users to utilize any available data communication system, including simple acoustical couplers and digital modems.

Computer-Aided Instruction

In the learning process, the VT05 terminal enables the simultaneous display of background video images and foreground alphanumeric information. At the elementary instruction level, foreground displays of words and numbers can be reinforced by static or dynamic pictures of the things themselves. The same technique is also appropriate for advanced levels of instruction such as medical school anatomy classes, repair mechanic training, and even photo intelligence evaluations. The background video image can be obtained directly from a TV camera or indirectly from a video tape player.

Hospital Systems

The VT05 fulfills all the necessary requirements for use in the hospital environment in multi-station paging, clinical and research applications. It is noiseless (no bothersome hum or clatter) and consequently eliminates intrusion upon the user, patients or subjects in the immediate vicinity. Also, it is extraordinarily simple to operate; no instruction manual is required, so anyone who can type can run it.

The VT05 utilizes solid-state elements, thereby guaranteeing high reliability with correspondingly fewer maintenance problems. It is completely portable, weighing only 55 pounds, and is easily connected to a standard acoustical coupler or a data set even by an unskilled operator.

The CRT screen displays a total of 1440 characters. A keyboard-controlled cursor is operated under program control to help revise, correct or delete any character, any line or any combination. This control via the computer allows simple question-and-answer type data logging to be accomplished at remote stations by non-computer operators.

Industrial and Commercial

The VT05 is completely self-contained on one rugged, compact package. It includes the keyboard, CRT, refresh memory, communications interface, and power supply.

The characters displayed on the CRT are refreshed 60 (50) times per second which obviates any flicker. A tinted glass shield is provided to reduce glare and make the VT05 visually comfortable to use. The simple keyboard allows for rapid entry of data.

All of these features, plus its handsome modern design, make the VT05 an ideal clerical tool for office or laboratory. With its video capability, moreover, it can also serve as a remote monitor for hazardous experiments or production processes; e.g., working with radioactive materials, noxious fumes, or toxic substances.