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From: Bakul Shah <>
To: "Nelson H. F. Beebe" <>
Subject: [TUHS] Re: Does anybody know the etymology of the term "word" as in   collection of bits?
Date: Fri, 9 Sep 2022 13:27:19 -0700	[thread overview]
Message-ID: <> (raw)
In-Reply-To: <>

On Sep 9, 2022, at 12:39 PM, Nelson H. F. Beebe <> wrote:
> Paul Winalski and Bakul Shah commented on bit addressable machines
> on the TUHS list recently.  From Blaauw and Brooks' excellent
> Computer Architecture book
> on page 98, I find
>>> ...
>>> The earliest computer with bit resolution is the [IBM 7030] Stretch.
>>> The Burroughs B1700 (1972) and CDC STAR100 (1973) are later examples.
>>> Bit resolution is costly in format space, since it uses a maximum
>>> number of bits for address and length specification.  Sharpening
>>> resolution from the byte to the bit costs the same as increasing
>>> address-space size eight-fold.
>>> Since almost all storage realizations are organized as matrices,
>>> bit resolution is also expensive in time or equipment.
>>> ...

And yet according to Wilner's article "the B1700 appears to
require less than half the memory needed by byte-oriented
systems to represent programs. Comparisons with word-oriented
systems are even more favorable."

Figure 9 shows sample sizes for Cobol, Fortran and RPG II programs
comparing B1700 code sizes with other systems. I was surprised to
see this but didn't look further.

From the same paper


  Burroughs B1700 is a protean attempt to completely vanquish
  procrustean structures, to give 100 percent variability, or
  the appearance of no inherent structure. Without inherent
  structure, any definable language can be efficiently used
  for computing. There are no word sizes or data
  formats—operands may be any shape or size, without loss of
  efficiency; there are no a priori instructions—machine
  operations may be any function, in any form, without loss
  of efficiency; configuration limits, while not totally
  removable, can be made to exist only as points of "graceful
  degradation" of performance; modularity may be increased,
  to allow miniconfigurations and supercomputers using the
  same components.

  reply	other threads:[~2022-09-09 20:28 UTC|newest]

Thread overview: 27+ messages / expand[flat|nested]  mbox.gz  Atom feed  top
2022-09-09 19:39 Nelson H. F. Beebe
2022-09-09 20:27 ` Bakul Shah [this message]
2022-09-09 21:12   ` Henry Bent
2022-09-09 21:44   ` Dave Horsfall
2022-09-10  1:49     ` [TUHS] Obscene languages (was: Does anybody know the etymology of the term "word" as in collection of bits?) Greg 'groggy' Lehey
  -- strict thread matches above, loose matches on Subject: below --
2022-09-11 13:30 [TUHS] Re: Does anybody know the etymology of the term "word" as in collection of bits? Douglas McIlroy
2022-09-11 15:08 ` John Cowan
2022-09-11 15:30 ` Bakul Shah
2022-09-11 15:45   ` Paul Winalski
2022-09-11 16:20     ` Steve Nickolas
2022-09-09 18:46 Norman Wilson
2022-09-10  1:35 ` Paul Winalski
2022-09-09 17:26 Douglas McIlroy
2022-09-09  1:33 Douglas McIlroy
2022-09-09  2:12 ` Larry McVoy
2022-09-13 14:23   ` John Foust via TUHS
2022-09-09  2:45 ` George Michaelson
2022-09-16  5:55 ` Marc Donner
2022-09-08 21:16 Noel Chiappa
2022-09-08 21:24 ` Dan Halbert
2022-09-08 18:20 Noel Chiappa
2022-09-08 19:28 ` Jim Capp
2022-09-08 16:51 [TUHS] " Jon Steinhart
2022-09-08 16:56 ` [TUHS] " Andrew Hume
2022-09-08 17:28 ` Dan Halbert
2022-09-09  0:00   ` Greg 'groggy' Lehey
2022-09-09 15:49     ` Paul Winalski
2022-09-09 18:44       ` Bakul Shah

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