[TUHS] Any Bell 8-bit UNIX Efforts?

Jonathan Gray jsg at jsg.id.au
Mon Feb 27 20:57:20 AEST 2023

On Sat, Feb 25, 2023 at 07:48:45PM +0000, segaloco via TUHS wrote:
> So in working on an unrelated 6502 project, I got to wondering about
> UNIX on it and other 8-bits. Did some Googling, and while I was
> able to turn up some attempts at UNIX-likes on 6502 as well as Z80,
> the only one I found that might have some Bell connection is "uNIX"
> as documented here: https://bitsavers.org/pdf/uNIX/uNIX_Jan82.pdf
> A forum post I read suggested those involved were some former Bell
> folks from NJ. In any case, this begs the question for me: Were
> there ever any serious attempts at an 8-bit UNIX in the labs or
> Bell System at large? Certainly it would've provided quite the
> challenge without much return compared with 16 and 32-bit efforts,
> but does anyone know if, say, an LSX/Mini-UNIX-ish attempt was ever
> made at the 6502, Z80, or other 8-bits? Thanks all!
> - Matt G.

If by Bell connection you mean people.  Plauger left in 1975,
joined Yourdon Inc in 1975, started Whitesmiths Ltd in 1978[1].
Whitesmiths created Idris, a clone of Unix.

"Idris can run comfortably where UNIX can't event fit: On an
MC68000 with no memory management hardware, for example.
On a bank-switched 8080 or Z80.  Or on any LS-11 or PDP-11
with memory management."
Whitesmiths advertisement in Computerworld, Mar 1983 [2].

Yourdon Inc, announced Omnix in 1980, a Unix-like system for Z80[3].
By 1981 it "had to be withdrawn when Yourdon were let down by its
developers" [4].

[1] https://indico.cern.ch/event/318305/attachments/612388/842557/PJPlauger-ITSeminar-Fifty_years.pdf
[2] https://books.google.com/books?id=RAe4jAHXAgwC&pg=PA50
[3] https://www.tuhs.org/Archive/Documentation/AUUGN/AUUGN-V02.3.pdf
[4] https://dl.acm.org/doi/pdf/10.1145/1164679.1164681

The last article is "UNIX on a Micro" by Cornelia Boldyreff.
It briefly mentions other 8-bit Unix-likes: Cromemco's Cromix,
Thinker Toys/Morrow's Micronix, Technical Systems Consultants' UniFLEX.

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