[TUHS] And now ... Weirdnix?

arnold at skeeve.com arnold at skeeve.com
Mon Sep 18 18:31:06 AEST 2017


That Pr1me had a Unix emulation layer is news to me (I think). I worked
on the Georgia Tech Software Tools Subsystem for Pr1me Computers for
several years. (Oh, how I wish I had saved that last release tape!!!)

Primos was a terribly weird OS, but the SWT subsystem made it almost
Unix-like and very pleasant and usable.  The mark parity business
was only one of the weirdnesses of that machine.  Georgia Tech even
had a C compiler for it. sizeof(char) was 1, of course, but it was 16
bits, because the instruction mode used didn't have 8 bit byte pointers.

I can't claim credit for GT-SWT; I came along after it was mature
and stable, but I did do a few nice things.

Arnold

Nigel Williams <nw at retrocomputingtasmania.com> wrote:

> On Mon, Sep 18, 2017 at 12:49 AM, Dennis Boone <drb at msu.edu> wrote:
> > The Prime minis
> > had a layered product called Primix that provided a unix userland of
> > sorts.  Dog slow, at least in its earlier releases.  Null pointers were
> > not zero on the Prime machines.
>
> I second Dennis's vote for Primix as "weirdnix".
>
> The other weirdness was the high-bit of ASCII being set due to the
> convention on Primos (they feared to ever change it to avoid upsetting
> customers).
>
> People went mad trying to port applications to it due to these
> differences. Primos defaulted to all UPPERCASE, and I vaguely recall
> having to poke about for a fair while when starting Primix to convince
> the Prime terminal handler to switch to lowercase.
>
> There was an attempt to produce a native port of Unix for Prime
> computers but I believe it was squashed by Prime management.


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