OSdata.com: holistic issues 


from the early days

    In the early days of computing, the hardware changed rapidly. Many of the first mainframes and first minicomputers were shipped with a minimum of software, sometimes not even including an operating system. Work with the first microprocessors required not just writing a new text editor, asssembler, and operating system, but also wiring together enough support chips to turn the micoprocessor into some kind of functional microcomputer.

    In this environment, the first task for programmers working on the latest equipment was to build up a tool suite before work could start on the actual application problem.

    Charles Moore carried around variations of Forth for nearly a decade before the language was released to the public. Forth could be ported to new hardware with just three parts (load, store, and inner interpretter) being converted to a new machine language. This allowed Moore to rapidly recreate his programming tools on a new platform and almost immediately start work.

    UNIX and the C programming language revolutionized computing. The C programming language is very compact and a simple C compiler is very easy to make. Almost all of UNIX was written in C. So, with a little bit of work to port over the C compiler, a programmer could rapidly introduce a working operating system (and a growing collection of standard UNIX tools, also written in C).

    Most programmers would have to wait until a platform was mature enough that FORTRAN AND COBOL were running in a stable manner.

    The ability to bootstrap on a new platform or the need to rely on a large suite of aging software (especially COBOL) distinguished the skill levels of programmers.

lessons from the early days

    This open source project brings back some of the excitement and sense of discovery of the early days of computing.

    We will use the combination of a web server (PHP and MySQL) and web browser (JavaScript) for your project.

    We are going to re-create the early days of programming by giving you the tools to create your own computer, programming language, and operating system and bootstrap everything from scratch.

    You can make each element as simple or as complex as you desire. This allows you to choose which parts most interest you and develop those parts to your heart’s content.

    You will be provided with copy-and-paste code to get the basics running. You do not need to have any knowledge of computer programming to get started, although that knowledge will certainly help, especially if you want to immedieatly branch off and make major extensions and modifications of your own.


    This is software is released under Apache License 2.0.

    Copyright 2013 Milo

    Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the “License”); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at


    Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an “AS IS” BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.


from the early days of computers

    The following are step-by-step instructions for building your own processor, programming language, and operatign system!

required tools

    You need to decide if you will make your project public or not. If you decide to share your project with the public, please use the contact form to send in your URL and specific details about your project (especially if you build a well-known processor, programming language, or operating system).

    If you are building a private version, you need a web browser, a text editor, and one of LAMP, MAMP, or WAMP, depending on your local operating system.



list of source code pages

OSdata.com is used in more than 300 colleges and universities around the world

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OSdata.com is used in more than 300 colleges and universities around the world

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    A web site on dozens of operating systems simply can’t be maintained by one person. This is a cooperative effort. If you spot an error in fact, grammar, syntax, or spelling, or a broken link, or have additional information, commentary, or constructive criticism, please e-mail Milo. If you have any extra copies of docs, manuals, or other materials that can assist in accuracy and completeness, please send them to Milo, PO Box 1361, Tustin, CA, USA, 92781.

    Click here for our privacy policy.

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Made with Macintosh

    This web site handcrafted on Macintosh computers using Tom Bender’s Tex-Edit Plus and served using FreeBSD .

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    Names and logos of various OSs are trademarks of their respective owners.

    Copyright © 2013 Milo

    Last Updated: November 28, 2013

    Created: November 28, 2013 (U.S. Thanksgiving)

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