CDC 6600 - Why so awesome?
swiftgriggs at gmail.com
Wed Jun 22 10:32:23 CDT 2016
On Tue, 21 Jun 2016, Chuck Guzis wrote:
> > - It had some wicked cool "demos", to cop a C64 term. (ADC, PAC, EYE)
> Those were mostly toys to amuse the CEs, like the baseball game BAT.
I was trying to find some video of one of those actually running. I wanted
to see how the "calligraphic displays" painted the graphics. Do you happen
to know why they went with two displays like that? Did the two have
> Chess 3.0 was implemented on Northwestern's machine and probably was the
> first computer chess program of note. This was before kids thought that
> computer games were *cool*. I never developed a taste for computer
Most folks I know who were in their 20s or 30s in the 60s or 70s didn't,
either. However, computer games were the "hook" that got a lot of people
like me interested in computing as children. I instantly became more
interested in creating the games, not just playing them. I've known a lot
of others with the same sort of instincts.
> Much of the architectural concept was shared with IBM 7030 STRETCH
> (another system worth researching).
Hmm, I've never heard of it. I'll check it out. Thanks.
> > - It wasn't DEC and it wasn't IBM and it was faster than both when it hit
> > the street?
> With a 10 MHz clock.
> It had several *cool* OSes, but really only two major ones for general
> consumption (Special Systems Dvision had several more). SCOPE (later
> NOS/BE), pretty much initially a PP-resident OS based on the old
> Chippewa Operating System--and NOS (was KRONOS, originally MACE),
I tried to find some info on SCOPE, but it's very sparse. Did it have an
interactive command line? What was your main "interface" to the OS?
> started as a "bootleg" project by Greg Mansfield and (Dr.) Dave
> Callender at Arden Hills. (MACE stood for "(Greg) Mansfield's Answer to
> Customer Engineering".
Lots of great and interesting operating systems start as a reaction to the
status quo or some idea they find abhorrent. UNIX and many variants
certainly have. Ie.. Ken & Dennis working on side-projects while bored and
demotivated by Multics, BSD guys reacting to AT&T clamping down, Linus
reacting to his profs, Theo forking NetBSD, I could go on and on...
UNIX: Born in rebellion.
> Most batch programs written for SCOPE would run fine on MACE with few,
> if any, modifications.
Did Control Data sell both or was one from an alternative vendor?
> In retrospect, CDC keeping two operating systems (SCOPE was part of CPD
> in Sunnyvale, while KRONOS stayed home in Arden Hillls) was probably a
> strategic blunder, since much duplicate effort was wasted. Eventually,
> the two were merged into NOS (for Network Operating System).
I found this PDF:
It's interesting to me because of how "different" everything is. I'm not
well versed in mainframe operating systems. It's interesting.
> There aren't any alignment issues, since the CPU was only
> word-addressable. This was when a character was 6 bits (think IBM 709x,
> UNIVAC 1100, etc.) So a word with 10 characters was logical.
I figured it was something like that, but I'm so used to 8-bit bytes and
such. It takes a minute to adjust my thinking to a different base, but
it's not that hard.
> Given that PP words 12 bits (5 to a CM word) and there were 10 PPUs,
> each executing at a speed 1/10th the CPU, it had a very pleasant sort of
I suppose it doesn't matter as long as things factor out properly: no
> COMPASS was indeed advanced for its time, but then so was OS/360
> assembly language. Given that assembly was the lingua franca of system
> programming, assemblers had to be good. Most of the readability was due
> to attention to detail by the programmer, not any particular language
Well, the sample code I could find was particularly well put together by
someone who knew they were doing. I'm a pretty poor ASM programmer, since
the only one I ever put much effort into was for the M68k (which is really
easy compared to some). I've got a big crush on MIPS ASM but I never was
any good with it. C ruined me. :-)
> > ... Is super-readable, in fact, probably a bit more than several
> > much-newer dialects on different platforms. There was one instruction
> > "PROTECT" I found pretty interesting, too.
> Where did you find that? I've never heard of such an instruction.
I was mistaken, it's only a control statement for COMPASS. It's actually
in the PDF manual I was just looking at. It's used to "preserve a user's
ECS field length between job steps."
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