Programming for the Alto's Mesa

Al Kossow aek at
Tue Jun 21 11:49:46 CDT 2016

On 6/21/16 8:25 AM, Josh Dersch wrote:

> Yes it was, as was MazeWar and the Laurel mail client (and many other things).

Alto software evolved throughout the 70's. It started out bare-bones as they bootstrapped
themselves up. Mesa was developed in parallel, as was Smalltalk. Mesa is an Algol-like
strongly typed language with the notion of modules and with internal and external interface.
This is all documented on bitsavers and in the source tree at CHM. Mesa is a bit too big to
run comfortably even on the max memory Alto with two disk drives. By the time the language
was in wider use they had D-machines to run it on. SDD stayed with Mesa for their product
development, PARC CSL evolved Mesa into Cedar, with things like integrated garbage collection.

The build system used in XDE and the D-machines is extremely powerful. Builds were completely
distributed across many servers with the distributed build system managing the packaging and

More information about the cctech mailing list