More HP1000's, and bootstrapping old systems in general.

From: lee courtney <>
Date: Wed Jan 16 10:57:54 2002

Bob et al,

I was one of the 6 members of the team that did
RTE-6VM at Data Systems Division in the late 79-80.
IIRC the floppy drive is not supported. I specifically
remember one of the team members, for grins, making
the floppy a swap device - the floppy didn't last very
long due to excessive media wear. RTE-M was the
resident RTE version done at the same time.

Sorry, I have no software, documentation, or knowledge
beyond the above (except for a RT6GN manual).

BTW - if there are any M/E/F HP1000/RTE gurus in the
SF Bay Area I'd like to borrow you for a day to bring
up a couple of beautiful HP1000 systems (E and F
Series) that the HP Response Center gave the Computer
History Museum ( in Mountain


Lee Courtney

--- Bob Shannon <> wrote:
> The 9885 is listed in HP documentation as the 12732A
> flexible disk system, with
> a capacity of 500 K bytes per drive, 4 drives
> maximum.
> It is supported under RTE-II, RTE-III, RTE-IV,
> RTE-IVB, and RTE-M.
> It is not supported under RTE-L or RTE-XL.
> I assume its also supported under RTE-6VM, but my
> documentation is not quite
> new enough to list that possibility.
> HP does have a boot from for this subsystem, but I
> think that the only OS that
> can fit and run from the 9885 is RTE-M, a 'memory
> only' version of RTE that was
> used to host dedicated applications where little or
> no program development work
> was done. Think of this (the M version) as a 'run
> time' version of RTE. Often
> RTE-M would boot off one of the tiny tape drives
> common to many HP terminals.
> In fact, the only mass storage systems for RTE-M are
> the 9885 and the terminal
> tape cartridge drives. RTE-M looks kind of
> interesting, in that it does
> support Basic/1000M, so program development using
> Basic is an option (but no
> Fortran compiler, assembler, etc).
> RTE-M looks like an excellent choice for building a
> small system around the
> newer HP minicomputers (M and E series). The only
> problem would be finding the
> distribution media and documentation.
> But I'm not aware of any place to get HP operating
> systems, or what their legal
> status is today. I've got bits and peices of some
> HP OS's, but nothing
> operational.
> In many cases, collectors find partial systems
> without 'real' operating
> systems, or even supportable disk systems to hold
> those operating systems. In
> these cases, what is a collector to do?
> On the HP machines, there is an easy alternative,
> HP's stand-alone basic. But
> programming in Basic may cause some collectors
> indigestion. And what if your
> chosen machine is not an HP??
> There is a way to get your chosen vintage machine
> running something usable
> without having to run the original operating
> systems. You can elect to
> 'bootstrap' the machine with a small, simple, custom
> operating system and
> programming language.
> Sounds impractical? Too much work?
> Look how small CP/M is. This is something a person
> could write. More
> importantly, a more portable option exists,
> something akin to Forth (punishment
> for not liking basic enough in my opinion).
> Small threaded interpreters can be build fairly
> easily, and are small and
> powerful tools. Once a small kernel of the language
> is running, you can
> quickly expand the system to provide whatever
> hardware support and features you
> choose.
> The book 'Threaded Interpretive Languages' by R. G.
> Loeliger describes an
> indirect threaded interpreter for the Z80, but first
> resorts to describing a
> 'generic computer' to host a very simple threaded
> inner interpreter.
> The generic machine described in chapter 3 is ~very~
> similar to the HP1000
> machines, assuming you write simple subroutines to
> implement the parameter and
> return address stacks. Using this approach, a very
> usable OS/programming
> language can be implemented in less than 4K words.
> Best of all it is
> extensible, features can be added incrementally. (as
> you find more hardware and
> documentation!)
> Whats needed to attempt such a thing?
> Well, documentation on any hardware you wish to
> support, and some form of
> assembler, either native or (preferably) a cross
> assembler. Some method of
> getting the output from the assembler into memory is
> also key, we all love our
> front panels, but we need something more practical.
> Getting back to HP machines for a moment, these
> needs are easily met. Simple
> loader software can be used to load code into memory
> through the TTY interface
> board, or better still through a parallel interface
> using the stock BBL loader.
> The assembler on the HP2100 archive site has been
> succesfully compiled into
> wintel executable code, and it works very well.
> Loader programs can be used to
> transfer data from a PC into the HP easily enough,
> or a reader emulator can be
> used as well.
> Other vintage platforms may not be so well supported
> in terms of cross
> assemblers and ultra-simple boot methods, but any
> box you can hand-code well
> enough to talk to the world through whatever
> interface you have can be made to
> work here. I should also mention emulation here.
> Like it or not, you don't
> have to have the actual hardware to do a lot of this
> work (this means that
> people can help develop without being blessed by the
> glow of the front panel).
> Personally, Forth is highly unreadable and
> sufficiently bizzare that I've never
> learned much about it, other than being facinated by
> its architecture. Its
> just so small, and you get so much functionality out
> of so little code. This
> efficiency of design has got to appeal to people
> trying to do something useful
> with vintage machines.
> Most often the vintage machine you find is not
> already booting whatever OS was
> once available. So whats the least-effort to
> getting such a machine running as
> it should?
> While implementing real Forth on a vintage machine
> is probably a very good
> approach to bootstrapping ancient iron thats not
> already booting an OS, Forth
> is just too strange for me. I'm taking the option
> presented in 'Threaded
> Interpretive Languages', and writing my own threaded
> interpreter.
> Because my collection spans HP machines from the
> bitty 2114 up through E-series
> boxes, I'm going to write my own operating system
> and language using the base
> instructions common to all these machines. I'm
> assembling the code using a
> wintel port of HPASM from Jeff's site, and
> transfering my code to the hardware
> using a tape reader emulator.
> But after reading of others trying to 'bootstrap'
> older HP machines, I have to
> ask if it would not be better for such
> 'bootstrapping' projects to be done by
> teams of list members?
> This way a semi-standardized 'new vintage OS' could
> be developed specifically
> for easy portability to any ancient iron lacking
> reasonable OS support.
> Individual users can then alter of replace the
> languaged dictionary to suite
> their tastes.
> Anyone interested in a threaded interpreter for old
> HP boxes? Maybe something
> that can run in all those 4K 2114's that can't run
> HP Basic?

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Received on Wed Jan 16 2002 - 10:57:54 GMT

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