1980s/1990s 68k C cross (and not so cross) compilers

Toby Thain toby at telegraphics.com.au
Wed Nov 25 11:09:15 CST 2015

On 2015-11-25 11:46 AM, Brad Parker wrote:
> On 11/21/15 2:38 PM, Al Kossow wrote:
>> On 11/21/15 10:44 AM, Paul Koning wrote:
>>>> Arg, totally forgot to include the HP 64000 and Tek 8560 development
>>>> systems though I'm
>>>> blanking right now on if they did their own or sold third-party C
>>>> compilers.
>>> Third party, I believe.  I used one of those for a 68040 (developing
>>> the DECbridge 900).  I think the compiler was Green Hills.  GCC was
>>> around, I think, but that isn't the one we used as far as I remember.
>>>     paul
>> It would have been impossible to use GCC on the 8560, it was a V7
>> PDP-11 Unix. The 64000 processor is pretty much the same as the HP 9845.
> In 1983 there was Alcyon on the 8560 :-)  (woa.  that was a long time ago)
> It only worked because they #ifdef'd out the floating point support.
> Split I&D on a pdp-11.  Not much space.
> I'm not aware of any native TEK C compiler for 68k on the 8560.
> In 1987 gcc would compile to 68k quite well.  Before that I seem to
> recall that there was also a C compiler from Standford, from sumex (wow
> - do I still have those brain cells?).  Remember sumex-aim ? SumMacC.
> Anyway, I think the Kinetics fastpath was compiled with that and I could
> swear I was using it as a C compiler on a vax-11/750 running mt. xinu in
> mid 80's.  Find someone from pixar - they were using it to compile
> Macintosh code.  I don't know the lineage of that compiler, but I think
> it was a port of something older.

You are right about gcc; version 1.37 (and I think a later version too) 
was ported to MPW, where it performed better than, and was more or less 
a drop in replacement for, Apple's compiler. In fact, when I was porting 
TeX -- at the time, considered a large program -- only gcc would compile 
it successfully.

Long before that, I used Whitesmiths C, Aztec C, and of course 
Lightspeed/THINK C on Mac for 68K.


> There was also another C compiler we ran on the vax ...
> I think gcc was the standard for 68k from 1987 on.  Yes, greenhills, but
> it's not clear it produced better code and it was really expensive.  Ask
> anyone at cisco or wellfleet what they used.  And trust me, they were
> worried about code size and code speed.  lol.  I remember trying to
> route at "wirespeed" using 10baseT.  Makes me laugh now.
> -brad

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