Early Programming Books

Paul Koning paulkoning at comcast.net
Tue Jun 22 18:45:49 CDT 2021

> On Jun 22, 2021, at 5:43 PM, ben via cctech <cctech at classiccmp.org> wrote:
> ...
> 1965 to 1985 generated most of the new computing languages,operating
> systems and ideas. Sadly most of it seems lost source code wise.
> Ben.

I might push the start of that back to 1955, but apart from that I agree you have a good point.

There's actually a surprising amount of preserved material.  The SIMH project has been a very impressive help with that, as is Bitsavers.  Then there is Hercules and DtCyber, to mention just two classic architectures preserved in emulators -- and each of these comes with a substantial body of operating systems and languages.

The famous THE system has been preserved.  The first ever ALGOL-60 compiler also (more precisely, the third, load and go, version of that compiler -- but that was a small incremental change not affecting the essential structure).  Both in source form, and both run in emulation.  The same goes for Multics, and OS/360, and CDC COS and Scope and Kronos, and Burroughs mainframe MCP.  There is a collection of PDP-1 software, and IBM 1620 software, and so on.  You can still run APL\360 as it existed on the IBM 360 mainframes, and you can experience the PLATO system just as it was in the late 1970s (for that, see cyber1.org).

For most of this the source code still exists, though I'm not sure about the 1620 bits.  So you aren't limited to playing with it, you can study the code, in as much depth as you care to.  Some have gone deep enough to get a Ph.D. for their work (Gauthier van den Hove's extremely detailed analysis of that first ALGOL compiler).

Of course there's also a lot that has vanished.  The machine on which I learned assembly language seems to have vanished from history except for one sales pamphlet (the Philips PR8000).  Software of the MC (CWI) research machines is pretty much gone, which is quite unfortunate since one of them is an ARMAC demo program written by Dijkstra containing his original implementation of the "shortest path" algorithm that later became the essence of several Internet routing protocols.


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