As you sow so shall you reap

The effort in creating this weblog was quickly rewarded in the form of comments and email from readers. First Micah Nutt, son of Roy Nutt, commented that his family has possession of Roy’s collection of business documents and memorabilia, including some Fortran-related microfiche mentioned by Daniel N. Leeson. Micah told me:

The fiche I have is most likely the same as the set my father donated to the IBM library in 1982 for the 25th anniversary of FORTRAN. The contents appear to be the specifications, flowcharts, mathematical analysis and source code for FORTRAN along with (at least part of) the user’s manual. The documents are a mix of hand written and machine based (some with hand written edits and notes). There are 23 micro fiche with 50 pages per (most are full). I actually have two identical sets.

I plan on investigating preserving these originals and also obtaining them in digital form.

I’m hoping Micah will post an article about his father, who, among other things, created the SAP assembler for the IBM 704, participated in the original Fortran team while on loan to IBM from United Aircraft Corporation, and co-founded Computer Sciences Corporation.

After further discussion with Alicia Cutler at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, it turns out that while her institution does not have the resources to scan the Fortran II listing, it is possible to set up an intermuseum loan with the Computer History Museum, so we will be able to digitize the listings here in Mountain View, California. Alicia sent me photocopies of a few sample pages, which I scanned and OCR’ed. The accuracy was not very encouraging; it’s going to take a lot of work to get a machine readable version.

Tom Van Vleck recently attended a Multics Reunion and Dinner honoring Professor Fernando J. Corbató; he came back with suggestions for more people to talk to and some software preservation gossip. In particular, the history of early operating systems deserves its own thread, which I hope to start soon.

Last but not least, Leif Harcke got in touch with me after seeing this weblog, and has passed along many useful facts as well as impressing me with his enthusiasm for software history. In particular, he commented:

The microfilm in Micah’s possession probably contains the source to the Fortran I compiler. IBM and SHARE distributed most of their detailed software documentation on microfilm back in the day. Norm Hardy refers to the Fortran I source on microfilm in his essay Fortran at Livermore.

Regarding the Fortran II listing at the Smithsonian, he said:

Fortran II was a strange beast; it ran under the Fortran Monitor System (FMS). FMS could either run the machine stand-alone, or it could run under IBSYS. Fortran II was link-compatible with the FAP assembler, the IBM product which superseded UA-SAP. You can get the Fortran II operator’s guide from Al Kossow’s Bitsavers site:
http://www.bitsavers.org/pdf/ibm/7090/C28-6066-6_FORTRANII_oper.pdf

I’m not sure the compiler itself will be of any use without the FMS monitor and the FAP assembler.

Leif has written a disassembler for the IBM 704, and helped me get started decoding the mysteries of Paul Pierce‘s SHARE tapes. I will post more about that soon.

Updated 23 March 2006: Leif Harcke’s URL changed.

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4 Responses to As you sow so shall you reap

  1. Bob Abeles says:

    The IBSYS tapes on Paul Pierce’s site contain the source for FAP, FORTRAN II, FMS (version that ran under IBSYS), plus lots of other goodies. I wrote a program several years ago that extracts the sources. I’ll try to dig it up this weekend and will post a followup next week.

  2. Bob Abeles says:

    One more thing: The Yale tapes in Paul’s collection are a treasure chest of 704, 709, and 709x programs. Among the jewels on the tapes is MAD. I wonder if it’s a version that prints AEN’s picture?

  3. Pingback: Dusty Decks » Blog Archive » FORTRAN 25th anniversary film online

  4. Pingback: Dusty Decks » Blog Archive » 704 FORTRAN II listing available

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