B 5000, MCP, etc - was Re: And speaking of ALGOL

Toby Thain toby at telegraphics.com.au
Wed Aug 12 22:04:43 CDT 2015

On 2015-08-12 1:39 PM, Nigel Williams wrote:
>> On 12 Aug 2015, at 11:24 pm, Paul Koning <paulkoning at comcast.net> wrote:
>>> On Aug 11, 2015, at 10:23 PM, Mark Kahrs <mark.kahrs at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> For those of you who might be interested, I sent a listing of the B6700
>>> ALGOL compiler source code to the CHM.
>>    I did find a copy of the B6500 ESPOL compiler online recently.
> In the B5500 emulator repo: https://github.com/pkimpel/retro-b5500/tree/master/source
> It is still to be proofed though.
>>> I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Burroughs extensions to ALGOL to
>>> optimise|ize the use of the native string instructions.
>> Did Algol come after the hardware?  I always thought of the hardware as having been customized for their Algol, but admittedly I don’t actually know which is chicken and which is egg.
> It is suggested in the oral history at UMN.edu that the B5000 was
designed as an ALGOL machine and Burroughs had the idea that only
compilers would generate machine code, so they made the B5000 compiler
friendly, and the system would have an OS to manage resources, so it was
designed around drum/disk being an intrinsic part of the system.

For more on this, see "Classic Operating Systems," Per Brinch Hansen, 
which reprints the paper "Operating System for the B 5000", Clark 
Oliphint (1964).

   "Two of the major B 5000 design objectives were (1) that all 
programming was to be done in ALGOL and COBOL, and (2) that the 
operation of the system was to be directed by a Master Control Program 
(MCP) which would relieve the operator and---especially---the programmer 
of virtually all the inefficient and error-causing details of peripheral 
unit designation, memory area assignment, and so on. The simultaneous 
and coordinated design of the computer and the programming system has 
produced a hardware-software system so well integrated that all B 5000 
users employ the standard programming system (with minor modifications 
for special applications in a few cases). It has been the experience of 
B 5000 users that the exclusive use of compiler languages in programming 
gives advantages in documentation, program preparation, and debugging 
which cannot be over emphasized. ..."


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