Exploring early GUIs

Lars Brinkhoff lars at nocrew.org
Sat Sep 19 14:48:48 CDT 2020

Noel Chiappa wrote:
> I'm not sure CONS ever ran as a stand-alone system; I suspect (but
> don't recall for sure; RG, TK or Moon or someone could confirm one way
> or the other) that it ran as a loosely-coupled co-processor to MC, the
> way the Chess Machine did.

I believe you are entirely correct, except it was AI rather than MC.  As
I'm sure you know, AI had the Rubin 10-11 interface with eight Unibuses
for attaching processors through shared memory.  MC had the DTE20 and
DL10, but those were for PDP-11 front ends.

The Chess Machine CHEOPS was used with MacHack VI running on MC, but
communicating over Chaosnet.  At least, that's how I interpret the code
in MacHack.

This doesn't make me less interested in emulating both CONS and CHEOPS.
Time permitting - which it doesn't.  I don't see any technical
obstacles; we already have one of the 10-11 processors working.  I have
reviewed the amount of preserved software, and I think chances are good
microcode and microassemblers for CONS and CHEOPS still exist.

There is some debate over whether the CONS had a display of its own, and
if so whether it could draw to a bitmap.  Do you remember?  As a mid-70s
technology, it might be a contender for one of the early GUIs this
thread is about.

> The CONS and the Chess Machine were both in the same room; 906-907 or
> so: [...] When the first CADR was built, its console was in the room
> next door (in the higher-numbered room direction); I remember watching
> over Moon's shouulder the night they first tried to boot it.

I have talked to Lispm enthusiasts, and they have a hard time
pinpointing a birthdate for the CADR.  Do you have a recollection when,
even what year, the first boot attempt was?

My information says room 907 at various points in time housed CADR-1,
"Chess, Lisp machines", Lisp Machine Consoles, GT40 (Lisp machine).

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