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Computer Archeology

eaw@Alliant.COM (Eric Woudenberg)
(original, true, smirk, computer)

[I mailed this out recently within my company, the books are all gone now but I thought people might still find it enjoyable.]

I have uncovered some interesting computer texts and scrolls in a recent archeological dig. These relics are outside my office and available to anyone interested. Anything not claimed will become part of the permanent museum of computer history and widgetry.


Mesa Language Manual version 5.0 (Xerox, 1979)

Recall the years when new computer languages and dialects abounded. When every new piece of hardware urged the creation of a new compiler and the simultaneous obsolescence of a million lines of code. Here is Xerox in its heyday.

Pilot: An Operating System for a Personal Computer (CACM, Feb 1980)

The appropriate antidote to any overstimulation you may be feeling from the previous work, this is a look at what happens when you implement an operating system in Mesa. You get an OS that took 10 man years to write, contains 24,000 lines of code, and for all that gives you a "flat" file system (read: one directory), and an OS that can't protect itself from a program accidentally zeroing all of memory. Read this any time you feel that the Macintosh isn't worthy of it's roots.

Lisp 1.5 Programmers Manual (MIT Press, 1972)

The second printing of John McCarthy's classic. Obscure language notation enlivens practically every page. An item you'll be proud to place among those humdrum Unix and C texts on your shelf. [Ed: Sorry, John.]


The perfect companion volume to the Lisp 1.5 book. This oblique tome illuminates such fascinating curiosities as "how to use project programmer numbers for disk i/o," "loading code into the high segment" and the important details of "calling MACRO-10 coded routines." Don't let this one slip by!

SAIL User Manual (CMU, 1973)

The "C" of the PDP-10, and logical heir to "MainSail." 5000 PhD's can't be wrong folks, take this book and stroll down "Algol 60" lane. This was R. B. Neely's personal copy.

Graphic Display Processor [GDP], Programmers Guide (CMU, 1974).

In its day the cadillac of vector graphics displays. This little speed demon could produce 50,000 flicker free vectors per second. Never mind that our recently acquired subsidiary's box [Raster Technologies] can produce 200,000 shaded polygons in that interval, this baby is the work of "the hardware oriented mind," to wit: 4 whole instructions, with the 2 opcode bits strategically placed at opposite ends of the instruction word. A great gift for a friend or relative whose thinking of dabbling in computer graphics.

GPI User's Manual (CMU, 1975)

The Bliss-11 software library for interface to the GDP. This is one of Sam Harbison's first works, with a disclaimer that reads: "This work was supported by me in my free time. It is my gift to the world ... GPI is sort of maintained by the author," what else could I add?

TECO Multics programmers manual (MIT, 1972)

TECO, the text editor that thinks it's a programming language, or is it the other way around? An obscure editor made just the more interesting in that this implementation was for Multics. I'd say something more, but there are people in the building still using this editor.

Son of Stopgap (SOS) (Stanford, 1970)

SOS, the last of the great line number oriented editors. This is the improved version that has intra-line editing as well as search and replace. A vanguard folks.


One great optimizing compiler, marred only slightly by the fact that it wasn't written in itself, generated code for a machine that it couldn't run on, wasn't portable, had a mindless scheme for ordering booleans, and for all it's complexity was unpleasant to write in, other than that ...

Ultrix-32w Manuals

DEC's version of the Unix manuals. A hefty three ring binder containing one set of release notes and a window system manual.

Unix Circuit design aids

The very thing 3B's are designed with.

These are all outside my office, take your pick, no tag-backs.

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