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From: clemc at ccc.com (Clem Cole)
Subject: [COFF] now COFF V- ISA's
Date: Thu, 4 Feb 2021 11:13:25 -0500
Message-ID: <CAC20D2Oc-FGr8gLEwho1Fc3muN_R2waqSK1X-O35aPYYhQy_6g@mail.gmail.com> (raw)

On Thu, Feb 4, 2021 at 9:57 AM John Cowan <cowan at ccil.org> wrote:

>
> On Wed, Feb 3, 2021 at 8:34 PM Larry McVoy <lm at mcvoy.com> wrote:
>
>> The x86 stuff is about as far away from PDP-11 as you can get.  Required
>> to know it, but so unpleasant.
>>
>
> Required?  Ghu forbid.  After doing a bunch of PDP-11 assembler work, I
> found out that the Vax had 256 opcodes and foreswore assembly thereafter.
> Still, that was nothing compared to the 1500+ opcodes of x86*.  I think I
> dodged a bullet.
>
IMHO: the Vax instruction set was the assembler guys (like Culter) trying
to delay the future and keep assembler as king of the hill.  That said,
Dave Pressotto, Scotty Baden, and I used to fight with Patterson in his
architecture seminar (during the writing of the RISC papers). DEC hit a
grand slam with that machine.  Between the Vax and x86 plus being part of
Alpha, I have realized ISA has nothing to do with success (i.e. my previous
comments about economics vs. architecture).

Funny thing, Dave Cane was the lead HW guy on the 750, worked on the 780 HW
team, and lead the Masscomp HW group.   Dave used to stay "Culter got his
way" whenever we talked about the VAX instruction set.  It was supposed to
be the world's greatest assembler machine.  The funny part is that DEC had
already started to transition to BLISS by then in the applications teams.
But Cutler was (is) an OS weenie and he famously hated BLISS.  Only the
other hand, Culter (together with Dick Hustvedt and Peter Lipman), got the
SW out on that system (Starlet - *a.k.a.* VMS) quickly and it worked really
well/pretty much as advertised. [Iknowing all of them I suspect having
Roger Gourd as their boss helped a good bit also).

Clem
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