APL\360 - Blast from the Past - Toronto APL SIG meeting

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Richard Procter

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
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On Tuesday, May 26, 6:30pm,

The Toronto APL Special Interest Group presents

Brian Silverman - Director of Research, Logo Computer Systems Inc.,
- Visiting Scientist, MIT Media Lab
and

Barry Silverman - Disus Inc.

on

APL\360 - The Original

Brothers Brian and Barry Silverman are interested in the history of
computer languages. As part of this interest they have worked on their
own and in collaboration with such institutions as the Boston Computer
Museum.

Several years ago they embarked on a mission to save bits of computer
history that were in danger of disappearing. In particular they were
interested in first implementations of interpreters and compilers that
no longer had hardware/software on which they could run.

They have saved some interesting things.

The project they are just finishing is the first APL commercially
released by IBM. They have the original source code and have made a
360 hardware and host OS emulator so that this original APL will run
on any PC.

The starting point was an old source tape that a friend of theirs
found in his basement. After reassembling the source, they then built
a computer for it to run on by emulating in the 360, it's disks and
terminals in Java.

The result is very authentic. The binary is essentially identical to
the original. The only changes have been in the expansions of OS/360
macros.

According to Brian Silverman:

"We plan to demonstrate a reincarnation of APL\360 -- the original
version. Our contribution in bringing it back to life was to create
an emulated IBM 360 environment in Java. It's a complete CPU with
channels, and even a subset of OS/360. We can't take much credit for
the APL -- we used the source code from an early '70's version of the
IBM program product. From the source (with NO modifications) we
rebuilt a fully workable object that functions identically to the
version of the day.

"In our talk we will briefly describe and show the other systems we've
resurrected. And we'll explain the development path we took to get a
relatively complex system going again. Finally we'll present our
thinking about bringing authentic versions of old software back to
life. It's challenging and rewarding. The hardest and most interesting
part was nothing at all technical. It was the research and information
gathering that put us in touch with a wellspring of historically good
ideas and the talented pioneers behind them.

"There is a tendency in the software world to undervalue any
technology that is old - our experience with the original APL directly
contradicts that assertion."
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Brian Silverman splits his time between Logo Computer Systems Inc.
where he is the Director of Research and the MIT Media Lab where he is
a Visiting Scientist.

Barry Silverman has been involved with software technology for the
last 20 years on a wide variety of platforms, and owns a consulting
company - Disus Inc.
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Date: TUESDAY, May 26, 1998
Time: 18:30 (6:30 pm)
Location: ROOM V-154 (Television Studio "C" - ground floor, North side
of the bldg.)
Rogers Communication Building
80 Gould Street (North-East Corner of Church & Gould)
Toronto, Ontario
----------------------------------------------------------------------

The Toronto APL Special Interest Group
http://www.torontoapl.org

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