Zortech C++ compiler

From: Michael Holley <swtpc6800_at_comcast.net>
Date: Tue Feb 24 20:23:23 2004

On Tue, 24 Feb 2004, Kevin Handy wrote:
> Vintage Computer Festival wrote:
> >The Zortech C++ compiler was one of the very first C++ compilers
> >in the mid- to late-1980s. I'm looking for a copy for a friend who's
> >writing a book (and also so the creator of Zortech C++ can have his own
> >copy since he never held onto his own!) Zortech C++ was licensed to
> >Symantec and became their C++ compiler.
> >
> >Does anyone have a copy of Zortech C++?

> How about a copy of Datalight C?

Walter Bright is the author of Zortech C++. In 1982 Walter and I were
evaluating computer languages for developing electrical engineering software
on the IBM PC, VAX VMS and VAX UNIX. We looked a Pascal, Fortran and C. We
selected C, the PC had the Lattice compiler, DEC had just released a C
compiler for VMS and UNIX had the standard.

Walter looked at the C compilers for the PC and said, "I can do better that
that." He got a release from our employer (Data I/O) and spent nights and
weekends writing a functional clone of the 2 pass Lattice compiler. This
enabled him the debug each pass and to be compatible with the Lattice
libraries. I think it took him a year to write the compiler and libraries
for the first release.

Microsoft also liked the Lattice C compiler, the OEMed the software and the
only change was the start-up banner. The OEM deal changed the words "Lattice
C 2.0" to "Microsoft C 3.0" (I forget the exact wording, it was 20 years
ago.) The higher version number made the Microsoft compiler sound better.
The files would pass a binary compare except for those bytes. The first C
compiler Microsoft wrote was version 4.0.

Walter first started selling his compiler as Northwest C, I don't know if he
sold any under that name. He teamed up with someone here in Seattle and
started selling it as Datalight C. That went OK but the distributor in the
UK was selling more then the US. Walter parted with Datalight and formed
Zorland with the UK distributor. Borland did not like the name so they had
to change it to Zortech.

In the late 80s C++ came to be as a pre-processor for the UNIX compiler.
Walter said, "I can do better that that." He wrote the first native C++
compiler for any platform. After about 10 years of work on the compiler he
sold out to Symantec and became an instant millionaire.

Michael Holley
Received on Tue Feb 24 2004 - 20:23:23 GMT

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