Lawrence Livermore National Labs and CP/M

This document Last dated Aug 28 2009, edited by Herb Johnson, including material from Jeffery W. Shook. - Herb Johnson

An early licensee of CP/M from Gary Kildall and Digital Research, was the US Government's Lawrence Livermore National Labs. This is referenced by Gary Kildall himself in a 1980 published account, as discussed on this linked Web page of early Digital Research history. This page discusses a LLL computer museum and lists relevant documents in the LLNL library.

On another Web page, I have discussion and documents about the LLNL floating point software package for the Intel 8080 processor, which they published and developed in the mid-1970's with an 8080 BASIC interpreter.

LLNL: documents and computing museum

The following is from Feb 2008 email discussions with Jeff Shook, about his search for early CP/M documents at the Lawrence Livermore National Labs. Jeff has an early CP/M floppy system himself, as discussed on this Web page.

Jeff: I spent some time trying to find any information on CP/M use at LLL but although there were some interesting articles in the online library on early computer work nothing mentioned CP/M. Sadly the LLL Computer Museum closed a few years ago.

Herb: This is very interesting, that you actually looked through the LLNL museum YOURSELF to find more about CP/M use there. As you probably know, Kildall provided to Lawrence some kind of CP/M software or system. The surviving BIOS code suggests the "Octopus" system at "LLL" used Kildall's software. Can you describe your experience at the Lab and at the Museum?

Jeff: I didn't actually go there. I spent a lot of time searching LLL online library for documents that mentioned CP/M but never found any [emphasis by Herb]. Some of the articles were interesting and there were more interesting ones listed in the references. Our campus library seems to only subscribe to online journals from about 1990 on so it is not easy to get the older ones. I have attached the list of articles. There were a few WWW pages about the Computer museum but mostly just pictures of what was in it before it closed. There was also a temporary 50th Anniversary Computer Museum in 2002. I may still have some links on my computer at work.

A description of the original LLNL computer museum is on page 28 of this Web document. [It's an archived copy of the "Analytical Engine", a newsletter of the Computer History Association of California, from January 1994. The article is "Land of the Silent Giants: a day at Livermore", probably by editor Kip Crosby. Staff of the museum at that time were Barbara Costella, Alice Pitts, Roger Anderson and Jim Tracy. The article discusses mostly mainframe and key/card station technology. - Herb]

In later correspondence with Jeff, he provided these Web links to discussions of the LLNL, gathered in early 2007. He said "I don't remember anything in here mentioning CP/M, but I have not looked at all the pages at some of these sites. I think perhaps whatever CP/M was used for at LLNL was at such a low level that no one bothered to mention it in any of the publications."


LLNL

http://www.computer-history.info/

http://www.cap-lore.com/
http://www.cap-lore.com/stories/LLNL_history/
http://www.cap-lore.com/stories/LLNL_history/norman_hardy_1.html

http://www.eros-os.org/pipermail/cap-talk/2006-December/006146.html

http://www.webstart.com/papers/

These may not work anymore but might be on www.archive.org

https://www.llnl.gov/50th_anniv/history.htm
https://www.llnl.gov/50th_anniv/decades/1960s.htm
http://www.doeal.gov/llnlCompetition/ReportsAndComments/LLNLOverviewByDecade/LLNL_ConciseHistory_1952_2004.pdf


OCTOPUS

http://www.computer-history.info/Page4.dir/pages/Octopus.dir/index.html
http://www.computer-history.info/Page4.dir/pages/Storage.dir/index.html

http://research.microsoft.com/~gbell/Computer_Structures_Principles_and_Examples/csp0409.htm 

http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/freeabs_all.jsp?tp=&arnumber=1451832&isnumber=31195 

http://www.osti.gov/energycitations/product.biblio.jsp?osti_id=6411584
http://www.osti.gov/energycitations/product.biblio.jsp?osti_id=7216272

http://www.webstart.com/jed/papers/Managing-Domains/


General Interest

http://www.tomandmaria.com/tom/Writing/Chromium-PlatedTabulator.pdf

http://www.ercb.com/ddj/1992/ddj.9203.html

http://www.patersontech.com/Dos/Softalk/Softalk.html

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2005-03-02-ms-coding-dis_x.htm 

-- Links from Jeff Shook

A sample of LLNL CP/M related documents - Herb Johnson

Document 175264 describes a "new design for interfacing computers to the Octopus Network", published internally on March 14 1977 and written by Lansing J. Sloan. It describes the Octopus network as a collection of "worker computers" and "subnetworks". The worker computers are CDC 7600 or STAR-100 mainframes. The subnetworks include a "interactive terminals" a set of 900 keyboard terminals; "television monitors" for text display; "RJET" remote job entry terminals; "hardcopy output - recording" for printers, plotters and microfilm recorders. A "new subnetwork... to allow remote minicomputers" may replace the RJET subnetwork. OTher subnetworks include various file storage systems.

The paper discusses the problems of this system of networks, mostly related to maintenance and software development on a large scale by a small staff. A proposed solution is to provide "some reliable, fairly inexpensive, timesharing CPU's into a worker system" which would run independently. This is more likely to be timesharing mainframes than independent microcomputers. References in the paper include the following:

J G Fletcher, "The Octopus Computer Network", Datamation, 19, 58-63 (April 1973);
J G Fletcher, "Principles of Design in the Octopus Computer Network", LLL, Report UCRL-75220 (1974)

Document 171022, "The Microprocessor as a Computer Mainframe" by Richard W. Conn (OCt 1975) UCRL-77443, describes "single user machines" based on work seen by the author "prior to 1974 using...the 8008 processor" and mentions "its successor the 8080". "The machine cited above was initially conceived as a teaching device" but it "showed..to be suitable for problems...including text editing, program debugging, engineering and business calculations, instructional material and, in fact, all computer augmented effort" which the author summarizes as "interactive use".

In a section titled "A microcomputer architecture", the author describes the 8008 processor with primary memory and a secondary "storage system...cassette or a cartridge". After a discussion of programming languages of the 1970's and 70's, he suggests a "macro processor" language like TRAC called STAGE2, from a "William Waite". Dr. Conn references his Jan 1974 Ph. D. thesis from Berkeley on "THe Machine Organization and Programming Structures for a Class of Microsystems". Waite's reference is "The Mobile Programming System: STAGE2" from the Communcations of the ACM, 13, 7 (July 1970). Other references are to FORTRAN, TRAC, and works of the 1960's and earlier.

paper 172326, "A PLM FLOATING-POINT INTERFACE PROGRAM" by C. Paoni, M. Maples, March 3, 1976, UCRL-51995. The paper says that LLL "recently purchased Intel's PLM" and "a floating point package" and references "in the last year". This paper documents the integration of those two products. Sources are included in the paper, which date the "floating point package for the MSC8" was by "David Mead", and modified by "Hal Brand 9/6/74", and by "Frank Olken 6/28/75". (The MCS-8 was an Intel microcomputer development system for the 8008.) Further in the code is the "program interface allowing PLM access..by M. D. Maples 9/2/75". A PL/M program written in Sept 1975 by Carl N Paoni is provided, which references a "teletype" and a "data acquisition system" but no mass storage. Presumably the PL/M FORTRAN compiler program was run on a mainframe.

paper 176135 A FLOPPY-DISK BASED DATA ACQUISITION AND CONTROL SYSTEM M. D. Maples, June 9,1977 UCRL-79471. This paper discusses an 8080 based a finished system for data collection and and floppy storage, programmed in BASIC. The 5Kb BASIC interpreter is described as "developed by LLL" and is in PROM, "with a 512-byte assembly language floppy-disk driver and 1.7Kbyte PLM floppy-disk controller program". BASIC CALL statements perform assembly language routines or access the floppy drive. The floppy disk format is IBM 3740 format and stores "1 to 19 files". The author cites "technical assistances from Eugene Fisher, Art Kray, Faith Schimanote, Gary Berry, and John Elliott".

A listing of the "floppy CALL routine" is given in assembler. The routine interprets the CALL statement. Apparently this is not a CP/M type environment, as the CALL statement references areas of memory and 128-byte memory blocks to be written or read from a floppy file numbers 1-19. PLM and assembly listings, written by "Bryan P Douros, August 13 1975", support the floppy disk and "barely holds to the IBM directory format".

There are some photographs in the document which show the system is an Intel MCS-80 system within a non-Intel box. The floppy disk interface is sketched as "LEA75-1957-31" and LEA75-1957-11" for a data interface and cable interface respectively. The floppy controller schematics show a simple drive interface under bus control (no microcontroller) with some CRC calculating capability.

References in the paper are to four LLL documents:
Maples and Fisher, "Real-time Microcomputer Applications...." RCRL 77468, Jan 14 1977
Allison, Terry "User's guide to the LLL BASIC Interpreter", UCID-17090 rev 1
Fisher, "High Level Languages in Microcomputer Automation", paper for Electro-76, written Feb 26 1976
Fisher, "Octal Debugging....." URCL 51694, rev 1, 1975

Documents on computing at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

[Compiled by Jeff Shook.] Available on the Library WWW site at this link as of Feb 2008. Click "Reports Search", then enter number in "Search for Reports" box. Schematics for the system were referenced but not included in the on-line document.

170057	A LIST-INTERPRETIVE LANGUAGE FOR PROCESS CONTROL APPLICATIONS OF THE MCS-8 MICROCOMPUTER
	S. C. Bourret, February 14, 1975
	
170063	AUTOMATING THE PRODUCTION OF CONTROL SOFTWARE
	Mathew N. Matelan, June 26, 1975
	
170548	OCTAL DEBUGGING PROGRAM (ODT-80) FOR THE MCS-80 COMPUTER
	E. R. Fisher, August 18, 1975
	
170602	A LOOK AT MASS STORAGE
	Garret L. Boer, May 5, 1975
	
171022	THE MICROPROCESSOR AS A COMPUTER MAINFRAME
	Richard W. Conn, October 1975
	
171286	FLOATING-POINT PACKAGE FOR INTEL 8008 AND 8080 MICROPROCESSORS
	Michael D. Maples, October 24, 1975
	
171391	OCTAL DEBUGGING PROGRAM (ODT-80) FOR THE MCS-80 COMPUTER
	E. R. Fisher, October 17, 1975
	
172326	A PLM FLOATING-POINT INTERFACE PROGRAM
	C. Paoni, M. Maples, March 3, 1976
	
172865	LIL8/V2: A LIST INTERPRETIVE LANGUAGE FOR THE MCS-8 MICROPROCESSOR
	S. Bourret, September 19, 1974
	
173907	A FEASIBILITY STUDY FOR THE COMPUTERIZED AUTOMATION
	OF THE ANNAPOLIS FIELD OFFICE OF EPA REGION III
	Henry S. Ames, George W. Barton Jr., Roman I. Bystroff
	Richard W. Crawford, Arthur M. Kray, Michael D. Maples, August 1976
	
174193	Speed microprocessor responses
	Eugene Fisher (From ELECTRONIC DESIGN, Nov 8, 1975)
	
174414	THE APPLICATION OF MICROPROCESSORS IN A NATIONAL LABORATORY
	Eugene R. Fisher Feb 1977
	
174592	BASIC FOR INTELíS 8080
	M. D. Maples, E. R. Fisher, December 15, 1976
	
174904	REAL-TIME MICROCOMPUTER APPLICATIONS USING LLL-BASIC
	Michael D. Maples, Eugene R. Fisher, January 14, 1977

175264	A NEW DESIGN FOR INTERFACING COMPUTERS TO THE OCTOPUS NETWORK.
	Lansing J. Sloan, March 14, 1977
	
176135	A FLOPPY-DISK BASED DATA ACQUISITION AND CONTROL SYSTEM
	M. D. Maples, June 9,1977   (Published in Byte?)
	
176479	A MICROCOMPUTER BASED CONTROLLER AND DATA ACQUISITION SYSTEM
	William W. Dalton, August 1977
	
179120	THE LLL OCTOPUS NETWORK: SOME LESSONS AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS
	Richard W. Watson, June 27, 1978
	
196311	STORAGE IN THE LLNL OCTOPUS NETWORK, AN OVERVIEW AND REFLECTIONS
	Sam Coleman, Richard Watson, February 28,1984
	
198124	POCKET GUIDE TO THE OCTOPUS SYSTEM
	Sharyn Vantine (Author), Elsa Pressentin (Editor)


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Herb Johnson
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Copyright © 2008 Herb Johnson and Jeffrey W. Shook as noted