Building OS/8 from paper tape...

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will...@gmail.com

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Jan 27, 2022, 6:16:59 PMJan 27
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So, I see that the simulator comes with an RK05 disk image of OS/8 and it works peachy. I was able to follow Albrecht's "My Computer Likes Me*" "*when I Speak in BASIC" and run the programs. Yay. The OS/8 Hanbook, weighing in at a measly 954 pages might take a while, but I have it onhand (pdf)... My latest question is, has anyone built a OS/8 version III system from paper tape recently :). I usually like to know the provenance of the systems I play with and this is no exception. It's great to have a working disk to boot off of, but I'm wondering if I should try to build my own disk based system... or if that's way too hard. I've done plenty of sysgens and the like in other systems like the PDP-11 and RSX, RT11, and various unices. How does the paper tape to disk process compare?

Will

Don Baccus

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Jan 27, 2022, 7:43:44 PMJan 27
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On Thursday, January 27, 2022 at 3:16:59 PM UTC-8, will...@gmail.com wrote:
> So, I see that the simulator comes with an RK05 disk image of OS/8 and it works peachy. I was able to follow Albrecht's "My Computer Likes Me*" "*when I Speak in BASIC" and run the programs. Yay. The OS/8 Hanbook, weighing in at a measly 954 pages might take a while, but I have it onhand (pdf)... My latest question is, has anyone built a OS/8 version III system from paper tape recently :). I usually like to know the provenance of the systems I play with and this is no exception. It's great to have a working disk to boot off of, but I'm wondering if I should try to build my own disk based system... or if that's way too hard. I've done plenty of sysgens and the like in other systems like the PDP-11 and RSX, RT11, and various unices. How does the paper tape to disk process compare?
>
> Will
I doubt if anyone, including Riche Lary, the primary author, ever built OS/8 from paper tape.

I don't think it is possible, actually.

Vincent Slyngstad

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Jan 27, 2022, 9:20:52 PMJan 27
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It may be possible, but it is certainly mad. *Installing* from paper
tape is achievable.

Even with the source available, I'm pretty sure PAL-III doesn't know
DEVICE, etc., so you'd have to do some tools work to build from paper
tape. (So many hours...)

Vince

will...@gmail.com

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Jan 28, 2022, 4:44:10 AMJan 28
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Hmm.. OK, then did folks build from DECTape? or did they just get the RK05 in the mail, or what?

Johnny Billquist

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Jan 28, 2022, 6:10:42 AMJan 28
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I think there is some confusion between building and installing here...

Building, as in compiling everything from papertape, is probably hard or
impossible. Having a distribution on papertape, and installing from it,
is probably fine. I haven't tried in ages, but I can't see that it
shouldn't work. And yes, for this you need the BUILD program. Which is
maybe where the confusion comes from. :-)

BUILD as in building the system image, or build as in compiling all the
code to get the OS itself built.

Johnny

Vincent Slyngstad

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Jan 28, 2022, 7:23:32 AMJan 28
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On 1/28/2022 1:44 AM, will...@gmail.com wrote:
> Hmm.. OK, then did folks build from DECTape? or did they just get the RK05 in the mail, or what?

There are part numbers for paper tapes of the binaries, and for both
source kits and binary distribution kits on DECtape, RK05, and even
RX01, RX02, and LINCtape.

I think the binary kits for block devices came as bootable media, and
you are meant to copy the media, then customize your copy. Optionally,
you could buy a mountable source kit too, which was useful as
documentation and facilitated more serious customization.

Paper tape binary kits let you "bootstrap" to that point by starting
with paper tapes of the binaries. (The first few are in BIN format, but
many of the rest are in the EPIC.SV paper tape archive format.) I'm not
sure how popular the paper tape kits were, once the bootable media
became available. (I do encounter the paper tape binaries, so I know a
number of people did buy them. Perhaps they were the only choice for a
time, or maybe they were just inexpensive.)

I'm not sure users were ever encouraged to build the whole thing from
source. Rebuilding a tool or two to tweak it seems to have been fairly
common though. (Less so in production settings, more so in educational
settings.)

(There were/are also sometimes minor discrepancies between the source
and binary provided for a given component. Not always at the same patch
level, basically.)

Vince

William Cattey

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Jan 28, 2022, 3:11:36 PMJan 28
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Hello Will,

I presume when you say, "The Simulator" you mean "PDP-8/E Simulator 2.3.1" recently released
by Bernhard Baehr. There are other simulators.

I, myself, have put a lot of work into a well-researched and rock-solid provenanced setup
of OS/8 that runs in SIMH, and is used on Oscar Vermulian's PiDP-8/i system. Although
my code line is in that project, I've always worked with an eye to being useful for other
simulators, such as that by Bernhard, and also for physical PDP-8 systems.

I totally get your desire to know provenance. So much of what we see are disk and DECtape images
of systems harvested from "systems in the wild."

In the PiDP-8/i software project, (see: https://tangentsoft.com/pidp8i/wiki?name=Home)
I created a set of tools that can drive OS/8 utilities, including BUILD
to assemble every little thing from source, and build it into bespoke DECtape or RK05 images.

Before I had the complete sources that you'd find in "The OS/8 Combined Kit", I found DECtape images
of OS/8 V3d Source and Binary distribution media, and was able to verify that they were ground level
truth.

On top of those, I researched the patches published in Digital Software News, and used my evolving
driver scripts to apply them.

I also built automation around applying two batch scripts that would patch the OS/8 V3 Keyboard
monitor either to obey lower case, but upcase it usefully, or to be an upper case only system.

I documented everything I did:

Provenance of early DECtape Images: https://tangentsoft.com/pidp8i/doc/release/media/os8/README.md
The beginnings of build from source with "v3f" sources: https://tangentsoft.com/pidp8i/wiki?name=OS/8+V3D+vs+V3F&p
Details of issues in upper case vs. lower case, and hard copy vs. screen support in OS/8:
https://tangentsoft.com/pidp8i/wiki?name=OS/8+Console+TTY+Setup&p
Disassembly of the LCSYS patch enabling more graceful handling of lower case in the Keyboard Monitor:
https://tangentsoft.com/pidp8i/wiki?name=OS/8+Console+TTY+Setup&p
Patching: https://tangentsoft.com/pidp8i/file?name=doc/os8-patching.md&ci=tip
Device Extensions -- The next step beyond V3D: https://tangentsoft.com/pidp8i/doc/trunk/doc/os8-v3d-device-extensions.md
The OS/8 Combined Kit: What it is and why you care:
https://tangentsoft.com/pidp8i/file?name=doc/os8-combined-kit.md&ci=tip
os8-run -- my automation: https://tangentsoft.com/pidp8i/file?name=doc/os8-run.md&ci=tip
os8-progtest -- A test harness for the whole build system:
https://tangentsoft.com/pidp8i/file?name=doc/os8-progtest.md&ci=tip

More documentation on what we did can be found at: https://tangentsoft.com/pidp8i/dir?ci=tip&name=doc

I think the RK05 and TU56 images we build for SIMH require some format conversion to be fed to
Bernhard's system. I saw some provenance info on Bernhard's page, but I leave it to him to provide
details specific to his distribution.

(I don't see a preview button here. I hope all these links come through ok.)

-Bill

Will Senn

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Jan 28, 2022, 7:50:51 PMJan 28
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Bill,

The post is great. I appreciate what you responded with and will take a look at the material you linked. This is exactly what I was wondering about.

Will

kgx...@yahoo.com

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Jan 29, 2022, 11:34:53 AMJan 29
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Hi,

It is definitely possible to build OS/8 from paper tape. Back when simH first came out I had the source for OS/8, but no binaries. But I had pal8.c.

It was a long time ago, so going from memory. I used pal8 to assemble the system and some programs. I used build to create a system, then I think I loaded
PIP using the build in abs loader. Then loaded PAL8 and a few other tools. Then loaded the source and rebuilt the rest. I still have the disks around somewhere.

Rich

Don Baccus

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Jan 29, 2022, 6:20:18 PMJan 29
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On Saturday, January 29, 2022 at 8:34:53 AM UTC-8, kgx...@yahoo.com wrote:
> Hi,
>
> It is definitely possible to build OS/8 from paper tape. Back when simH first came out I had the source for OS/8, but no binaries. But I had pal8.c.

Yeah, well, using a cross assembly tool like pal8.c is different than building it entirely on a PDP-8 with just paper tape.

But still, your cross assembly effort plus linking and building the resulting binaries from simulated paper tape is very cool!

Bob Eager

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Jan 29, 2022, 6:59:48 PMJan 29
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I did something similar in about 1975 with RT-11. I was given a complete
set of sources - only.

I had a PDP-11 running DOS/BATCH. I assembled on that (with a few tweaks
to the source) and wrote a program to convert object formats. Then I
wrote something to put a boot block on a DECtape, and write an empty
directiry. Then I extended that to write a system image and vital files
on the DECtape.

I was able to boot, run and swap from the DECtape. I use FILEX (I think)
to bring across other files, and initialise the disk and copy stuff to
it. It worked.

I'm doing something similar at the monent, but for a mainframe
(simulated). But in this case I wrote the simulator. Also a compiler and
an assembler.

Don Baccus

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Jan 29, 2022, 11:22:30 PMJan 29
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Well, sure, and originally PS/8 (OS/8) was cross developed from another PDP-8 monitor, perhaps the Michigan one Richie was supposed to be working on. But again that's different than building OS/8 from paper tape tools only, entirely on a PDP-8.

OS/8 runs perfectly well on DECTape, especially if you enjoy watching spinning tapes :)

What mainframe are you simulating? Sounds interesting.

Bob Eager

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Jan 30, 2022, 1:57:58 AMJan 30
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On Sat, 29 Jan 2022 20:22:29 -0800, Don Baccus wrote:

> What mainframe are you simulating? Sounds interesting.

You've probably not heared of it. ICL 2900 (descended partially from the
Manchester MU-5).

Don Baccus

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Jan 30, 2022, 1:11:37 PMJan 30
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Oh, yes, I've heard of the ICL mainframes, though I never saw one and never knew much about them.

Sounds like a fun project.

Bob Eager

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Jan 30, 2022, 5:15:01 PMJan 30
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There were other models, because ICL was formed from a number of
companies when the government essentially nationalised them.

The last stage was ICT (mainly the ICT 1900 series, 24 bit system),
English Electric (32 bit IBM 360 clone), and Elliott Automation (24 bit
system which was the first assembler I ever learned).

The 2900 replaced all of those in the mid 1970s. An interesting machine
(e.g. a variable size accumulator).

This isn't a very good article, but it will suffice as a summary:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ICL_2900_Series

For more, see:
http://www.ancientgeek.org.uk/ICL/The_ICL_2900_Series.pdf

Roger Ivie

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Jan 31, 2022, 12:36:12 AMJan 31
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On Sunday, January 30, 2022 at 2:15:01 PM UTC-8, Bob Eager wrote:
> There were other models, because ICL was formed from a number of
> companies when the government essentially nationalised them.

oddly enough, youtube pointed me at this earlier this evening:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkTHDgYTh64
--
roger ivie
roger...@gmail.com

Bob Eager

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Jan 31, 2022, 4:22:31 AMJan 31
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On Sun, 30 Jan 2022 21:36:12 -0800, Roger Ivie wrote:

> On Sunday, January 30, 2022 at 2:15:01 PM UTC-8, Bob Eager wrote:
>> There were other models, because ICL was formed from a number of
>> companies when the government essentially nationalised them.
>
> oddly enough, youtube pointed me at this earlier this evening:
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkTHDgYTh64

Thanks! Hadn't seen that. Will watch later.

I always believed that one effect of this was to have a plethora of
middle managers, a lot of them not very good. We dealt with one or two.
Our engineers pulled the wool over their eyes to actually get the job
done.

An example:

https://www.bobeager.uk/anecdotes.html#managers

Robert

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Feb 3, 2022, 11:41:27 AMFeb 3
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On Fri, 28 Jan 2022 04:23:20 -0800, Vincent Slyngstad
<vr...@hotmail.com> wrote:

>Paper tape binary kits let you "bootstrap" to that point by starting
>with paper tapes of the binaries. (The first few are in BIN format, but
>many of the rest are in the EPIC.SV paper tape archive format.) I'm not
>sure how popular the paper tape kits were, once the bootable media
>became available. (I do encounter the paper tape binaries, so I know a
>number of people did buy them. Perhaps they were the only choice for a
>time, or maybe they were just inexpensive.)
>
> Vince

I was an early OS/8 user on RK05 and in the UK at least the sales guys
promoted the papertape route. With a single RK05 drive duplicating
media provided only on a disk would have been more bother (*) than
installing from papertape (which I did more times than I care to
remember!).
(*) - fairly straightforwards to write something with a bit of
disk-swapping but DEC themselves didn't provide any tools for it.

Ian Schofield

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Feb 19, 2022, 5:23:50 PMFeb 19
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Dear All,

Am I correct in thinking that you would like to build OS/8 for a another system device than setup on images available at various locations?
If so, you can trick build into doing this as I just needed to build a 4 platter DF32 system for a toy town project listed in the PiDP8 group.
The only real problem here is that you don't seem to be able to save a working copy of build (as you would just after a boot/sys built).
It seems to get a problem with the handler table(s) ..... I am not surprised!
I left the RK05 handlers in so that one can easily copy all of the system files rather than having to do papertape.

Regards, Ian.
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