Nat Semi ns32k, was Re: Whitechapel Computer Works MG-1

Noel Chiappa jnc at
Mon Dec 1 11:32:08 CST 2014

    > From: Steven M Jones

    > only to be pummeled by the emerging RISC designs...

My (dim) recollection of the NS32K architecture (I recall someone came to MIT
and gave a presentation on it, and I have an early architecture document - so
old that it's called the NS16K!) was that it was very elegant, but my sense
now, looking back, was that it was one of that wave of machines (the VAX being
the other notable one) that went down the CISC road just before RISC arrived,
and showed that CISC was not really the way to go; those systems were all

Which, in the NS16K/NS32K's case was unfortunate, because the architecture in
other ways, i.e. at a high level (i.e. ignoring the instructions), was the
best of the whole lot. Notably, it attempted to provide real segmentation
support, perhaps the only chip of that group to do so.

Although of course once Unix took over the world, that was irrelevant.

(Much as I dearly love(d) V6 for how it got an incredible amount of power out
of a very small machine, it's pretty clear that the basic approach of Unix
was inferior to that of the single level store systems [e.g. Multics]; Unix
really was - and in many ways remains - a toy operating system, considered
from a larger viewpoint.)


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