Re: HP Series 9000 early 1980’s computer hardware

Warner Losh imp at
Thu May 17 17:48:41 CDT 2018

On Thu, May 17, 2018 at 4:15 PM, Frank McConnell via cctalk <
cctalk at> wrote:
> HP-UX for them is very interesting from a historical perspective in that
> the Unix kernel is a complete rewrite.  It is hosted on top of HP’s “SUN
> OS” operating system (there is also a single-user BASIC system for the
> 9020, also hosted on SUN OS) and written in HP’s MODCAL language.  The
> filesystem is HP’s Structured Directory Format.  The userland is largely
> made up of ports from AT&T System III (and later System V) and 4BSD.

HP-UX did a fairly extensive kernel rewrite, but implemented substantially
the same system call interface. This was apparent in a number of ways (the
binary format was different from other machines in ways I can't quite
recall, not quite COFF). They did ship mostly programs from BSD and SysV,
though through quirks of the legal minefield of the early days of Unix,
they did it under their System III license, at least in the early days...
Don't know if that ever changed to a System V license or not since they
didn't have a System V kernel...

> So when it is running HP-UX it looks like Unix, with some exceptions.  One
> is that if you open and read a directory from your C program there are no
> entries for . (current) or .. (parent) directories; these are done in SDF’s
> directory entry and not present in the actual Unix directory.  Yes, ls -a
> shows them: it is faking them to make it look more like Unix!

I think they must have fixed this, or it wasn't true for readdir(). I
ported the OI toolkit to HP-UX once upon a time and the file dialog boxes
just worked, and we had . and .. in there...

> -Frank McConnell (supported Wollongong’s TCP/IP on these)

Danger! The Sea Monster Comes!


> On May 17, 2018, at 13:48, Ed Sharpe wrote:
> >
> > actually we are lacking 9000 gear for smecc. where is it located? we are
> in AZ...
> > HP Computer Museum overseas is awesome... The site has saved us mauna
> time with the excellent documents there.
> >
> >  ed#
> >
> > Sent from AOL Mobile Mail
> >
> > On Thursday, May 17, 2018 David Collins via cctalk <
> cctalk at> wrote:
> > I agree with Al. Chas approached the HP Computer Museum on this and as
> much as they would be great to add to the collection, the shipping costs to
> Australia and the fact that the museum is more in a consolidation mode than
> acquisition meant we weren’t able to take them in.
> >
> > Hopefully someone close by to him would like to have these units!
> >
> > David Collins
> >
> > Sent from my iPad
> >
> >> On 18 May 2018, at 1:35 am, Al Kossow via cctalk <cctalk at>
> wrote:
> >>
> >> Series 500 machines are quite rare. Someone should save these.
> >>
> >>> On 5/16/18 10:00 PM, Lawrence Wilkinson via cctalk wrote:
> >>>
> >>> I own several HP 9020 work stations along with peripheral gear
> associated with that series.
> >>
> >>

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