Below is a story that I heard 2nd or 3rd hand. It begs to be exaggerated and is thus the stuff of urban legend.

After Peter Sampson had produced the hardware for the PDP-1 a few fellow students conspired in the following plan. DEC and MIT worked together closely and informally. These students had various connections with DEC but I think none were employees. They chose a product name (number, I think) for the new hardware component. They documented Sampson’s hardware in the style that DEC used for its own products. This included wiring nets and parts list. They filed this documentation along with other such build documents. Other students who knew where to find the official price list for optional features for the PDP-1; they entered the new name which served as a reference to the documentation to build the component. They included a price that was typical for such a component. They added this to the filing cabinet with other official optional PDP-1 hardware components. Shortly later they ordered the part with the ‘bogus’ number and DEC built it for them.

I must imagine that a few people at DEC knew roughly what had happened but the story was told in such a way that that was not necessary. I suppose that DEC made their normal profit from the sale.

Today, 2013 Jan 5, I ran into Peter Samson at the CHM and asked him if there was any truth to this story. He said no. He did relate that another MIT student modified MIT’s PDP-1 to have a new and useful instruction and that DEC adopted this enhancement as an option on their machines.