[TUHS] Jerq menuhit/mhit

Rob Pike robpike at gmail.com
Sat Jul 1 08:14:32 AEST 2023

The original name was Jerq, which was first the name given by friends at
Lucasfilm to the Three Rivers PERQ workstations they had, for which the
Pascal-written software and operating system were unsatisfactory. Bart
Locanthi and I (with Greg Chesson and Dave Ditzel?) visited Lucasfilm in
1981 and we saw all the potential there with none of the realization. My
personal aha was that, as on the Alto, only one thing could be running at a
time and that was a profound limitation. When we began to design our answer
to these problems a few weeks later, we called Lucasfilm to ask if they
minded us borrowing their excellent rude name, and they readily agreed.

Our slogan: A jerq at every desk.

This was cool, we had good shirts, and Bart even made license plates that
read JERQ. But when the thing started to get interesting, Sam Morgan, 127's
director, got very nervous. He didn't want to talk to his colleagues about
how good our jerqs were. So he proposed "RX" (research experimental) and
Bart and I immediately huddled down and came up with blit, from bitblt, and
that was accepted. So it was Sam who forced the issue. A shame really, but
BTL management wasn't famous for its sense of humor.

This is all with the 68000 original, which had been hand-built by us using
wire wrap and then in larger but still modest numbers by a company on Long
Island whose name was Northern Atlantic if I remember right. Wing Moy did
most of the work there.

Teletype came and measured and analyzed and proposed building some with
metal cases and more mass producible board technology, and that became what
people around the company, and later elsewhere, called the Blit.

The DMD-5620 was the WE32000 version, which resulted from a decision by
Scanlon to ram up WE32000 production by selling this product with the chip
in it, at a loss because the chip alone cost something like $2000, compared
to something like $25 for the 68000. Also, the WE32000 was far less
suitable a chip, being buggy and also slower at the specific tasks like bit
shifting that you needed for fast graphics.

I still have the license plate. Here's a picture I made today.

[image: IMG_4673.jpg]

For those perhaps too young to understand what a revolution the merging of
graphics and multitasking was back then, some testimonials from the time:

>From dmr Tue Apr  7 02:01 EST 1981 remote from research

Don't lose interest in the jerq terminal stuff, no matter what

momentary problems you have with the device or the system.

I think the approach and the progress so far are very exciting.

>From wild!scj Sun Nov 21 09:52 EST 1982

Well, after an afternoon with the bilt, seeing asteroids, crabs, maxwell,

etc. etc, I asked Sarah what she liked best.

"I liked mpx best"

"What did you like about it?"

"I liked making all the different boxes, and making all the different things

happen in them, and making them go away."

I think "universal appeal" is not too strong a term...

>From alice!vax135!tbl Sat May 14 12:07:42 1983

To: alice!rob

Subject: you've spoiled me

I can't believe it.  I'm sitting here at home in front of my

2621, and I can't work.

Damn it.  I've got to get a blit at home.

[Turner and I are really pleased with the software.  Good job!]


On Sat, Jul 1, 2023 at 1:35 AM Seth Morabito <web at loomcom.com> wrote:

> Speaking of the Jerq...
> Is there a definitive history anywhere of the progression from Jerq up
> through the AT&T 730MTG? When I wrote my DMD5620 emulator I tried to find a
> complete history, but wasn't able to. I just found various (possibly
> apocryphal) bits and pieces here and there about AT&T objecting to various
> names until "DMD" was settled on by marketing at some point, and forcing
> the use of a WE32K in the 5620 for make-corporate-happy reasons.
> -Seth
> --
>   Seth Morabito * Poulsbo, WA * https://loomcom.com/
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