About the project

Over the years, almost all P7001 have been separated from their minicomputers. So was mine when I got it. Still a nice collector’s item, but without all the main features degraded to a showcase model.

Since I couldn’t find an original computer, I decided to hook up a modern one to the P7001. Tektronix offered various interface types to connect the unit to different kind of controllers:


Part Numbers



DEC PDP-11 based machines
(Original and Tek branded)



Data General Nova



Tektronix 31 Calculator



Tektronix 4010 series Graphics Terminals



Universal interface for the CAMAC standard
Developed in cooperation with CERN



Universal interface for the GPIB standard
Developed for the 4050 Computer series

The problem with most of these interfaces is that they are proprietary and it’s not possible to connect them to a modern computer. The only exceptions are the CAMAC and the GPIB interfaces.

P7001 GPIB interface, rear view

I couldn’t find any information about the CAMAC interface, but it’s relatively easy to connect a modern computer to GPIB devices. But the subsequent tests revealed a big problem: communication speed. GPIB is by far the slowest of all available interfaces. About 125,000 data words per second can be transmitted via the CP Bus interface, while the GPIB bus is limited to about 50 data words per second - a factor of 2500. The X/Y mode and the controller-based signal averaging are practically unusable with this interface.

There were some other issues like bugs in the firmware of the interface and modern GPIB adapters not being 100% compatible with older devices. At the end, there was only one way left to go: I had to construct my own interface. The pandemic gave me some free time and the Teensy 4.1 provided an ideal basis for my idea.