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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Univac Document Archive: 1107 SLEUTH II and PROCS Manuals Added

I have added the following documents to the Univac 1107 section of the Univac Document Archive. These are PDFs of scanned paper documents in my collection. These documents are fifty years old and may appear wonky to contemporary eyes: text is sometimes misaligned on the page, multiple fonts are intermixed like a ransom note, and sample code sometimes appears as handwriting on coding forms. These are not artefacts of scanning—it's how the documents actually appeared. Recall that only around 38 Univac 1107s were sold, so documents describing it were produced in small numbers and didn't, in the eyes of Univac, merit the expense of the high production values of contemporary IBM manuals.

The Univac 1107 was originally supplied with a machine-specific assembler called SLEUTH (later renamed SLEUTH I). Computer Sciences Corporation subsequently developed an optimising Fortran compiler, a batch operating system initially called the Monitor System and later EXEC II, and a new assembler, SLEUTH II. SLEUTH II was a “meta-assembler”: within the constraints of a maximum word length of 36 bits, it could assemble code for any machine. The 1107 instruction set was defined by procedure definitions, but by writing new definitions, code for other machines could be easily generated. I used descendants of SLEUTH II to assemble code for a variety of minicomputer and microprocessor systems, including early versions of my Marinchip Systems software. SLEUTH II had a powerful procedure and function definition facility which was, rare for languages of the day, fully recursive. (I recall writing Ackermann's Function as a SLEUTH II FUNC just because I could.) A companion manual explained these procedures (PROCS) and functions in greater detail.

Posted at November 19, 2017 15:16