[TUHS] Tandem NSK implementation language (was: Happy birthday, John Backus!)

Greg 'groggy' Lehey grog at lemis.com
Wed Dec 5 08:49:25 AEST 2018

On Tuesday,  4 December 2018 at 15:59:46 -0500, Paul Winalski wrote:
> On 12/4/18, Paul Winalski <paul.winalski at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Over the years GEM was targeted to MIPS, PRISM, Alpha, and Itanium
>> machine architectures, and VMS, Unix, Linux, and Windows NT operating
>> systems.  We were working on x86 when Compaq sold the Alpha
>> architecture and its engineering team (including GEM) to Intel.
> I forgot one:  Tandem NonStop OS on Alpha, which was under development
> at Compaq at the time that Compaq decided to sell off the Alpha
> technology to Intel.

Was this a start-from-scratch operation?  The original Tandem OS
(called Guardian at the time) was written in Tandem's TAL (Transaction
Application Language, amongst other productions), a vague evolution of
HP's SPL that looked more like Algol, starting in about 1974.  That is
also the earliest I know of an operating system being implemented
entirely in a high level language.

When Tandem started using other architectures (MIPS) in the late 1980s
we discussed translating the whole thing to C.  I was asked to write a
99% translator (maintaining comments and such), and failed.

I lost track of the system after that, but it seems surprising that
they would have started again from scratch.

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