Classic programming

Rich Alderson RichA at
Fri Aug 7 13:16:20 CDT 2015

From: Eric Christopherson
Sent: Friday, August 07, 2015 9:18 AM

> Is there a subset of this group for people who like to program in
> languages or language implementations or libraries that are no longer
> in common mainstream use? Or other groups for such a thing?

As others have noted, there are a lot of subjective unstateds in your
basic question.

I do a lot of my daily programming in PDP-10 assemblers, usually Macro-20
but when working on WAITS it's FAIL and on ITS it's MIDAS.  In addition,
I occasionally program in MIT TECO, to keep my hand in as the maintainer
of the original EMACS (RMS said so).

One project got sidetracked by an operating system that is too modern:
The DECsystem-1070 (KI-10 processor) is running Tops-10 v6.03A, in which
executable programs are created in .EXE format.  Even the most recent
version, 7.05, can execute programs in the older form (two segment files,
a .LOW and a .HGH or .SHR depending on sharability of the high segment
code).  This affects the use of an old FORTRAN compiler to implement a
vintage on-line game, DECWAR, in which the .SHR segment is writable, and
each player's stats (up to 12 players at a time) are kept there.

What I have to do, when higher priority projects permit, is to install a
copy of the linker, and probably Macro-10 as well, from v5.03, which came
before the .EXE file format was defined.

A year earlier, to get the KI-10 going, I had to program in PAL on our
PDP-8/e to add capabilities to PIP10, because the 8/e was the only system
in the museum with working DECtape drives which could read and write on
PDP-10 format DECtapes.

So yeah, not a lot of mainstream use of the languages involved, and yeah,
I like doing it.  That's a good thing, because otherwise my job could be


Rich Alderson
Vintage Computing Sr. Systems Engineer
Living Computer Museum
2245 1st Avenue S
Seattle, WA 98134

mailto:RichA at

More information about the cctech mailing list