CDC 6600 - Why so awesome?

James Vess theevilapplepie at
Thu Jun 23 22:28:39 CDT 2016

Hey guys,

I was looking and found that the Tektronix 4010 is a calligraphic display,
for which I found a video!

Let me know if it bares a resemblance to the display on the 6600

On Wed, Jun 22, 2016 at 10:32 AM, Swift Griggs <swiftgriggs at>

> 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
> different purposes?
> > 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
> > gaming.
> 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.
> Impressive.
> > 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
> > symmetry.
> I suppose it doesn't matter as long as things factor out properly: no
> worries.
> > 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
> > feature.
> 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."
> -Swift

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