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From: Brad Spencer <>
To: "G. Branden Robinson" <>
Subject: [COFF] Re: Microware's OS-9 (was: [TUHS] Clever code)
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2022 10:39:59 -0500	[thread overview]
Message-ID: <> (raw)
In-Reply-To: <20221214151444.niv5xtnxlmoifbrm@illithid> (

"G. Branden Robinson" <> writes:

[migrating to COFF]


>> In that time frame there was a number of microkernel designs.  One
>> that has not been mentioned was OS-9 for the 6809/68000 processor.  I
>> used it pretty extensively.  OS-9 was very unix like from the userland
>> POV, when you consider something like V5 unix, however it didn't share
>> any of the same command names, just many of the same concepts.
> This is emphatically true.  I used this system as a kid on a 64KiB
> machine, and I don't remember even a mention of Unix in the doorstop of
> a manual by Dale Puckett and Peter Dibble (who gave you something like 6
> chapters of architectural background before introducing the shell
> prompt).  Maybe they did mention Unix , but since it had no meaning to
> me at the time, it didn't sink in.  I think it is also possible they
> avoided any names that they thought might draw legal ire from AT&T.

That is more or less me too...  However, in later years when I was
familiar with Unix I looked at some of the OS-9 books and the block
diagrams in the books about the OS-9 OS could have described early Unix
pretty well.

>> It was close enough that if you had the C compiler, a very basic K&R
>> compiler, you could get some of the unix command to compile without
>> too much trouble.
> Years later I went to college, landed on Sun IPC workstations, and
> quickly recognized OS-9's "T/S Edit" as a vi clone, and its "T/S Word"
> as a version of nroff.  There was also a "T/S Spell" product but I don't
> recall it clearly enough to venture whether it was a clone of ispell.

Ya, I think I even had a patch that turned T/S Edit into a much closer
vi clone.  But, I think by then I had another vi clone already on hand.

One of the other things I did with OS-9/6809 was worked on UUCP.  I
didn't write the original OS-9 UUCP code, but I did modify it quite a
bit and had it talking UUCP g protocol to UUnet via a phone line.  I did
write a 'rn' Usenet news reader clone and was pulling down a few news
groups as well as email every day.  In the last days of that system, I
also logged into the system via a serial port complete with Username and
password prompts.  This was all on a Color Computer 3 with 512K.


>> and nothing like Mach or even Minix.
> With the source of all three available, a technical paper analyzing and
> contrasting them would be a worthwhile thing to have.  (It's unclear to
> me if even a historical version of QNX is available for study.)

The source to OS-9/6809 would have been released by Microware a long
time ago had it not been for a particular person in the user community.
Got mucked up.  I fell out of following it after the BSD Unixs became

>> It was also very much positioned to real time OS needs of the time and
>> was not really marketed generally and unless you happened to have a
>> Color Computer from Radio Shack
> Lucky me!  How I yearned for a 128KiB Color Computer 3 so I could
> upgrade to OS-9 Level 2 and the windowing system.  (512KiB was
> preferred, but there had been a spike in RAM prices right about the time
> the machine was released.  Not that greater market success would have
> kept Tandy from under-promoting and eventually killing the machine.[1])

Level II was nice.  It was able to use bank switching and would allow a
set of random 8k memory blocks out of the 128k or 512k present in the
CC3 system to be mapped into the 6809 64k address space.  The Color
Computer didn't support memory protection, so no paging or any real
process protection, but this banking allowed for a lot of possibilities.
I know that there was other OS-9 systems around that ran Level II but I
don't really know how they managed memory.  I would suspect it to be
simular to the CC3, but that is just a guess on my part.


> Regards,
> Branden
> [1] Here's a story you may have to sit down for from Frank Durda IV (now
>     deceased) about how the same company knifed their m68k-based
>     line--which ran XENIX--in the gut repeatedly.  It's hard to find
>     this story via Web search so I've made a Facebook post
>     temporarily(?) public.  I'd simply include it, but it's pretty long.
> [2]
> [3]
> [4]

Brad Spencer - - KC8VKS -

       reply	other threads:[~2022-12-14 15:41 UTC|newest]

Thread overview: 2+ messages / expand[flat|nested]  mbox.gz  Atom feed  top
     [not found] <20221214151444.niv5xtnxlmoifbrm@illithid>
2022-12-14 15:39 ` Brad Spencer [this message]
2023-01-06 16:38   ` G. Branden Robinson

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