Classic programming

Sean Caron scaron at
Fri Aug 7 17:21:25 CDT 2015

I love this list, I always learn so many interesting things ... reading the
article on SynthesisOS now; a few pages in, it sounds like an early attempt
at building a reflective operating system? Neat. I wonder if the Quamachine
still exists? :O



On Fri, Aug 7, 2015 at 6:11 PM, Sean Conner <spc at> wrote:

> It was thus said that the Great Eric Christopherson once stated:
> > 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?
>   I am to some degree, although I like to look at such langauges for ideas
> and not to use.  I find K&R C (pre-ANSI) too horrible a language to
> use [1] but even in worse languages there are some neat (if also
> horrifying)
> ideas [2].
>   But I'm also interested in older software as well.  One of my "when I get
> around to it" projects is playing with the Viola web browser [4].  Written
> in the early 90s, it *barely* compiles on a 32-bit Unix system and while it
> may compile on a 64-bit system, it's unrunnable [5].  It has a scripting
> language built in, but it is its own scripting language that is quite
> annoying to actually use. I've been trying to update the code so it will at
> least run on modern systems, and then next, replace the scripting language
> with something more reasonable.
>   My current Holy Grail piece of software would be Synthesis OS---an
> operating system written in assembly (in 1991) that can recompile and
> specialize itself on the fly [6]---basically, a program can request and get
> custom system calls to use.  And at the time, it ran SunOS binaries faster
> than SunOS on the same hardware.  Incredible stuff.
>   -spc (Today, Synthesis OS would be considered a JIT OS ... )
> [1]     #define bitblt(s,r,d,p,c)       (*((void(*)())0x430d6))(s,r,d,p,c)
>         Among other horrors ...
> [2]     Like INRAC.  And sadly, my own blog entry [3] on the language
>         contains probably the most information about it on the web today.
> [3]
> [4]
> [5]     Because integers and pointers will always be 32 bits right?
> [6]

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