[TUHS] AOS and IBM/RT [Re: Amdahl UTS, AIX/370, AIX/ESA

greg travis greg.m.travis at gmail.com
Fri Nov 22 02:43:37 AEST 2019

You're quite right about the religious error messages. I used MetaWare High
C under DOS briefly, comparing it to Turbo C and Watcom. (Watcom won.) It
had extensions to C, such as a coroutine-ish 'yield' keyword.

On Thu, Nov 21, 2019 at 9:20 AM Dan Cross <crossd at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Thu, Nov 21, 2019 at 8:07 AM Brad Spencer <brad at anduin.eldar.org>
> wrote:
>> For a brief time a long time ago, I used a 4.3BSD based Mt. Xinu, MACH
>> microkernel, OS on the IBM-RT as an alternative to AOS.  Ran well
>> enough, but was disk and memory constrained.  We had source to much of
>> the system (or perhaps all of it, don't remember), but I seem to recall
>> that compiling it was a big pain.  Something like you had to use a
>> specific compiler (perhaps referred to as High C??  hc command perhaps)
>> to compile some of the source.  gcc had a backend for the ROMP
>> processor, but it had a hard time making usable binaries.  I think that
>> some variation of pcc was the usual compiler.  I remember it being
>> pretty stock 4.3BSD with NFS and minus YP/NIS.  We used them mostly as X
>> terminal workstations.
> "High C" (or perhaps "Hi C"? It's been a while...) was the name of the
> system compiler on AOS; I thought it was installed as `cc`. I don't recall
> a pcc-derived compiler, but apparently such a thing did exist and some
> documentation says that High C was installed as `hc`, so my memory may be
> off. This old post describes RT compilers:
> https://groups.google.com/d/msg/comp.sys.ibm.pc.rt/u7DUwY5U9kQ/uVqLP9FhqMEJ
> Hi-C was sort of an odd compiler. I gather IBM outsourced the development
> of it to some third party (MetaWare) which was founded by very religious
> people, and I have a vague memory of some of the documentation or perhaps
> even error messages making biblical references.
> The kernel had to be built with High C, if I recall correctly, though GCC
> worked OK for producing userspace binaries. I don't recall what the bug
> was, but it was eventually found and fixed. Perhaps it had to do with
> incomplete register saves on function entry interacting poorly with
> interrupts or something.
> Some RT enthusiasts kept those machines running well beyond their prime.
> Why? I'm not entirely sure; as you say, they were memory and disk
> constrained. They were also very slow. Anyway, I have some vague
> recollection that at some point the bug in the compiler was fixed so that
> GCC could produce a working kernel; nascent NetBSD and OpenBSD ports were
> planned, but I don't think they ever went anywhere.
> https://www.openbsd.org/romp.html exists, though I don't know that the
> NetBSD people ever got beyond the talking stage. The OpenBSD-romp mailing
> list had some interesting information, but I can't find archives anymore.
> Oh well. The RT was an interesting footnote in the history of computing,
> but it seems that, as a workstation, it was too little too late by the time
> it actually hit the market. Had they released it a few years earlier?
> Perhaps they could have cornered the market.
>         - Dan C.
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