“Minicomputer” is the name usually given to the small, inexpensive, laboratory-oriented computers first developed in the 1960s and early 1970s. The Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) PDP-8 is generally considered as the first, and quintessential, mini.

At a time when most computers cost between $100,000 and $1,000,000 dollars, DEC produced the small PDP-8 in 1964 starting at $16,000 for specialized uses in laboratories, control situations, and later even small timesharing systems. The market was soon joined (often by groups of engineers leaving DEC) by firms such as Data General, Prime Computers, Integrate, and even larger firms such as Hewlett Packard.