[TUHS] Zilog Z80 Unix

Clem Cole clemc at ccc.com
Thu Apr 20 23:05:44 AEST 2017

Leor Zolman had a little firm her in NE called Brain Damaged Software (BDS)
and he wrote and marketed a full C compiler called BDS C -
http://www.bdsoft.com/resources/bdsc.html [ which is now freely available -
including the sources].   For years Leor's compiler was the de facto
standard K&R style C compiler for the 8080/z80 systems for CP/M and such
systems.  [What was important, is that until Leor, the CP/M community was
using something called "Small C" which was a sub-set of the language.  Leor
managed to get V7/K&R into a 8080].

A couple of other folks (which I thought included Leor) had a UNIX-like
system running on/with it that we showed to Dennis at first Boston USENIX
in late the 1970s/early 1980s - that IIRC could take CP/M programs -
[although they may have to been relinked].   My memory is that the system
got sold/licensed to a firm on the west coast and marketed independently of
BDS C, [you might ask Leor or maybe some like Phil Karn - i.e. any one that
was doing both UNIX and CP/M in those days].

If forgotten the details, I do remember Dennis saying that it reminded him
very much of early UNIX and was very impressed with job that had been
done.  The basic tools were there: sh, ed, grep, ls and it was quite usable
modulo floppy disk speeds.


On Wed, Apr 19, 2017 at 9:42 PM, Erik E. Fair <fair-tuhs at netbsd.org> wrote:

> I have a memory of having seen a Zilog Z-80 (not Z8002 like the Onyx)
> based Unix, possibly v6, at a vendor show or conference - perhaps the West
> Coast Computer Faire (WCCF) in the late 1970s or early 1980s.
> I recall asking the people in the booth how they managed without an MMU,
> and don't recall their answer. I do remember thinking that since Unix had
> "grown up" with MMUs to stomp on obvious pointer mistakes, the software
> ought to be relatively well-behaved ... you know: not trying to play "core
> war" with itself?
> I searched the TUHS archives cursorily with Google to see if this has been
> previously mentioned, but pretty much all Z80 CPU references have for its
> use in "smart" I/O devices back in the day.
> Does anyone else remember this Z80 Unix and who did it? Or maybe that it
> was a clone of some kind ... ?
>         looking for a little history,
>         Erik Fair
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