25 Years of Real-Time Computing

By Todd Poynor

REAL-TIME Interface, An Interex Publication

August 1991

The year 1991 marks Hewlett-Packard's 25th Anniversary in the computer business and the Silver Anniversary of the HP 1000 product line. To celebrate this milestone, it is our pleasure to share with you a chronicle of the life of the HP 1000 product line thus far. The chronology that appears below is the first installment in a three-part series, the remaining installments of which will be published in future issues of REAL-TIME INTERFACE. The history presented here is based to a large extent on fuzzy recollection, anecdotes of ques- tionable accuracy, and detective-style guesswork. It is, no doubt, inaccurate and incomplete on a number of subjects. The author welcomes any corrections or additional information the REAL- TIME INTERFACE readership wishes to provide. As this history clearly shows, Hewlett-Packard's experience in the computer business has been far from perfect, and many hard lessons have had to be learned. Nevertheless, the HP 1000 has managed to endure for a quarter of a century as a direct result of the continued demand by our customers. We at Hewlett-Packard thank you for 25 years of a valued partnership.

1964 In approximately June of 1964, people at HP's Dymec Division decide that a new computer should be the heart of future instrumentation systems. Previous experiments with PDP-5 and PDP-8 computers from Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) have shown that custom design work and specialized software are needed to interface these computers to HP instruments. Dymec wishes for a more flexible computer design that simplifies the task of connecting instruments to the computer.

Engineers at HP's corporate research and development laboratories have already outlined the design of such a minicomputer, emphasizing a flexible I/O system which can be easily connected to measurement instruments and other peripherals.

Dymec Division is descended from a company named DYNAC, Inc., which was founded in 1956 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of HP. DYNAC was formed to handle test equipment systems, in particular, test equipment for missile guidance systems then being developed by the U.S. government. Originally this project was a part of the HP R&D Lab, but a separate company was spawned due to the specialized needs of the R&D lab involved, and reportedly due to fears of reduced profit sharing for HP employees caused by the new business. In 1958 the company was renamed DYMEC, Inc. due to a conflict with an existing trademark owned by Westinghouse. HP acquired DYMEC and formed Dymec Division in 1959. The company logo of DYMEC was simply an "hp" logo turned upside- down into a dy," superimposed on an oval background.

Also in 1964, HP purchases Data Systems, Inc. (DSI) of Detroit, a small company owned by Union Carbide, which employs five computer designers and software experts, four of whom subsequently join HP. Included in the purchase are the rights to the design of a computer, the DSI 1000.

Dave Packard makes the decision to buy DSI after he becomes interested in computers and starts shopping around for a small company to buy. Bill Hewlett agrees to the purchase only after Dave agrees to call them "instrument controllers" instead of "computers." Many HP executives share Bill's wariness of the new product line, not wanting HP to venture into the fiercely competitive business data processing market. By 1969, Bill will be partially converted to the computer revolution, using an HP 2000 to keep track of the bull breeding stock he and Dave run at Little Basin.

1965 The first HP computer R&D lab is formed through a merger of the ex-DSI employees and HP Labs employees. Dymec Division is deemed the division best suited for building computers because of its experience with the DEC machines, and so the team is organized as part of that division and housed in a corner of the Dymec manufacturing building (7B) in Palo Alto.

Software development is later moved to a trailer (with a leaky roof) parked in the executive parking lot next to Bill and Dave's offices. Later still, software development is moved to a basement and the programmers are asked to use a special entrance to avoid passing through the other work areas. Although this request is made in part due to the irregular work hours of the software team, it is also apparently intended to keep the pro- grammers out of sight; the programmers are considered "weird" by the other employees. Most professionals at this time tend to wear white shirts and ties, and look askance at the long hair, sport shirts, and sandals of the programmers.

The design and release to manufacturing of the 2116A is accomplished in one year. The final hardware development is supposedly performed far more quickly than the industry average for systems of such complexity, and the simultaneous availability of software with the hardware is a unique achievement, according to observers.

1966 (Nov) The 2116A computer is introduced at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco as the "brains" of HP's measurement systems. The marketing group is disappointed at the reception accorded by the conference attendees. The 2116A is the first 16-bit minicomputer in the industry (the PDP- 11 will be the second). The design is very similar to that of the PDP-8. The first "operating system" for the 2116A is Software I/O (SIO), which consists simply of a set of device drivers that is loaded from paper tape before an application is then loaded which calls those drivers. All code written under SIO uses absolute addressing; no relocating loader is provided. SIO serves as the host system for the other early 2116-family operating systems (such as BCS, early RTE, and DOS). The FORTRAN, ALGOL, and 2116 assembler languages are available.

Free with the 2116A is the Basic Control System (BCS), the first system to be written on top of SIO. BCS

  • Loads and links relocatable programs
  • Creates indirect and base page addressing when necessary
  • Selects and loads referenced library routines
  • Processes I/O requests and services I/O interrupts.
Like SIO, BCS is loaded from paper tape and knows nothing of disc devices. BCS is built by the Prepare Control System (PCS), an SIO system. One unusual feature of BCS is that it fills unused memory with halt instructions so that programs will halt if they try to execute those locations.

BCS can only handle one I/O operation on a device at a time. If a request is issued for a device that is busy, then the request is rejected and the program must keep checking with the IOC (Input/ Output Control) subroutine to find out when the driver is available. A later version of BCS with the "Buffered IOC module allows output requests for low/ medium speed devices to be buffered in available memory if the driver is busy. Two of the first instrumentation systems built around the 2116 are the 2018A Computing Data Acquisition System and the 8542A Microwave Network Analysis System. HP will proceed to release other processors in the same family, henceforth called the "21xx family":

1967 (Nov) Dymec Division is renamed Palo Alto Division (PAD).

1968 Palo Alto Division releases the original Real Time Executive (RTE). RTE requires 16K of memory (24K for the Algol compiler) and offers the following features:
  • Source, relocatable, executable code, and program data may be stored on a drum disc.
  • Each program is designated as either real-time or background, and as either core-resident or disc-resident; all four resultant classes of programs execute in different areas of core. Background disc-resident programs may be broken into disc-based overlay segments.
  • Programs can be executed concurrently (multiprogramming) based on priority scheduling. Only one real-time disc-based program can execute at a time, but an optional swapping feature allows these programs to swap out so that a higher priority program can run.
  • Memory-protect prevents programs from modifying other programs or the system. All I/O requests must go through the Executive (except for privileged interrupts).
The introduction of RTE is met with many complaints from users who encounter problems with the functionality of the operating system.

The HP 2000A Time-Shared BASIC System is introduced, a 2116B processor running a multi-user system dedicated to running a BASIC interpreter. Other models and year of introduction are:
2000C', 2000E, 2000F1972
2000 System1976 (w/E~Series CPU)

HP 2000 sales will be discontinued in June, 1978 (although the 2026 communication system will still be sold).

(May 1) Systems Division is formed to build custom 9500-series Automatic Test Systems, staffed with employees from Palo Alto Division.

1969 (Spring) Portions of Palo Alto Division concerned with computers (but not the RTE specialists) move to buildings 40 and 41 in Cupertino to form the Cupertino Division.

Around the same time as the formation of the Cupertino Division, the Data Products Group is formed, which includes the Cupertino Division and the Mountain View Division. The Electronic Products Group is also formed, which includes the Palo Alto Division, Systems Division, and the instrument divisions. The data acquisition systems operations of PAD are made a part of Systems Division.

At about this time, the Test-Oriented Disc System (TODS) is released. It is essentially a single-tasking BCS system with a disc driver and a file system on the disc. The TODS versus RTE controversy begins; people interested in multi-tasking, multi-instrument applications favor RTE, while others prefer the superior interrupt response and freedom to single-task applications offered by TODS.

Sometime around 1969 the Disc Operating System (DOS) is written. DOS is a single- tasking system based on drum discs that executes on 2116 or 2114 CPUs with at least 8K of memory. DOS is oriented toward batch processing of small business applications. Much of the operating system is stored out on disc and loaded as needed.

According to legend, it is possible to generate your DOS system so that the operating system module that handles disc parity errors is disc-resident. Another story avers that the command which purges disc files ("PU") will delete every file on the disc without verification, should no filename parameter be supplied. This feature is almost certainly removed in later versions.

The Data Acquisition and Control Executive (PACE) is also released in 1969. PACE aids program development by allowing the operator to change signals to be measured, frequency of sampling, computation constants, and so on by entering new values through a teleprinter keyboard instead of modifying the program.

1970 The Magnetic Tape System (MTS) is released. MTS allows the user to put programs on mag tape rather than loading paper tapes for every program to be executed. MTS consists of a control program called the Inter-Pass Loader (IPL) and SIO drivers, and can execute the BCS relocating loader from mag tape with the subroutine library also on tape. MTS is built by the Prepare Tape System (PTS).

(Feb) The Automatic Measurement Division (AMD, affectionately known as the "Automatic Meeting Division") is formed from a merger of PAD and Systems Division, encompassing data acquisition and automatic test systems. For a while there is "AMP East" (Systems Division) and "AMP West" (PAD). AMP gains responsibility for RTE from Cupertino Division, which is neglecting it in favor of DOS; AMP needs it to control its systems.

1971 The HP 2100A computer is introduced with these features:
  • First microprogrammable minicomputer in the industry
  • Memory expansion from 4K to 32K words
  • 14 I/O channels, expandable to 45 with the I/O extender
  • Memory protect, dual-channel DMA, hardware multiply/divide
  • Optional hardware floating point processor
  • First switching power supply in a minicomputer.

As the story goes, the 2100A is roughed out on a napkin at lunch and becomes a project. The power supply is reportedly based on work done by Bill Hewlett (with Barney Oliver and Ralph Lee). The 2100A project is begun after the cancellation of a 1969-vintage processor project codenamed "Omega," a 32-bit machine that is the first computer designated by HP to replace the 2lxx family of processors. The Omega design is pared down to a 16- bit machine and becomes the basis of the HP 3000; apparently, HP does not believe a sufficient market exists for a 32-bit minicomputer.

Coinciding with the announcement of the 2100A is the gathering of the data acquisition and control systems into the 2100-based 9600 series. DOS-M, which supports moving-head discs, is introduced around this time.

Soon after the introduction of DOS-M, the RTE which supports moving-head discs (sometimes referred to as "RTE-M," not to be confused with the later memory-based "RTE-M") appears. This RTE-M is released at about the same time as the 7900 disc.

1972 (Feb) Cupertino Division and Mountain View Division, which manufactures tape drives, are merged into what will become Data Systems Division.

(Nov) The HP 3000 Computer System is first introduced. During the development of this computer, HP management declares for the second time that the 2lxx family of processors is to be obsoleted; the HP 3000 is originally intended to execute all of the MPE (Multi-Pro- grammed Executive), RTE, and Time-shared BASIC operating systems. Apparently, porting RTE to the 3000 architecture turns out to be more difficult than was initially estimated.

1973 RTE-II is introduced, an almost complete rewrite of the earlier RTEs. It features:
  • 2 partitions for disc-resident programs
  • Disc file system with FMGR interface
  • I/O Spooling, Multi-Stream Batch, Multi-Terminal Monitor.
  • RTE-B, the RTE BASIC Software System dedicated to running a real-time BASIC interpreter, is introduced around the same time as RTE-II.

Soon afterwards, RTE-C, the RTE Core-Based Software System, is introduced, which is a memory-based RTE-II.

The first Distributed Systems product, DS-1, the 91701A/B Distributed Systems Interface Kit, is released, allowing a central 9600E/F RTE system to communicate with BCS and SIO terminal systems" running the Terminal Communication Executive (TCE). TCE/1, TCE/2, and TCE/3 perform functions analogous to the later SCE/1, SCE/2, and SCE/3 of the Satellite Communication Executive (ca. 1976).

Sometime later DS-lB appears, adding Program-to-Program (PTOP) services but still requiring the same star configuration. DS-1B' appears even later (which allows RTE-III systems to communicate with RTE-C systems).

1974 (Nov) The Computer Systems Group is formed to unify the computer business, replacing the Data Products Group. AMD is made a division of CSG, and the portions of AMP responsible for RTE and the 9600-series Measurement and Control Systems are moved to DSP. The DOS versus RTE wars begin within DSP.

Eventually RTE will replace DOS as the operating system for the 2lxx family for these reasons:

  • The HP 3000 becomes HP's primary business computer, and the DOS group melts into the 3000 group.
  • Enhancements to RTE, such as the File Management Package (FMP) and the FMGR user interface program, make it easier to access discs.
  • DSP wants to support only one operating system. DSP decides it is easier to add DOS functionality to RTE than to add real time and multitasking to DOS. DOS will no longer be offered by 1975-1976.

The 21MX processor is introduced (later known as the "M-series"). The 21 MX adds the Dynamic Mapping System (DMS) to the design of the 2100. The 21MX may be the first minicomputer to use semiconductor memory (instead of core).

The 21MX line of processors are:
2108B/2112B1976power supply revision
2108M/2112M19792108B/2112B after the MX is renamed "M-Series"

Within the next year, index registers will be added to the 21MX. Rumor suggests that this is in response to government procurement regulations that stipulate that any computers bought must have index registers. The index registers are hampered by slow access speed; it is faster to code your own addition of an offset to a base address and reference the resultant address using the accumulators than it is to use the index registers.

1975 Around this time DOS-III and DS-IIB are introduced.

The first of the 21MX-E processors appear, although the formal announcement does not occur until 1976. The 21MX-E (E-Series) line of processors consists of:
2109A/2113A1975initial introduction
2109B/2113B1976power supply revision
2109E/2113E19792109B/2113B when renamed to "E-Series"

1976 RTE-III is introduced around this time, with these features:
  • Uses the DMS to put the OS and user programs in different maps, but much OS table space is still included in the user's map
  • Supports memory expansion up to 256K words
  • Provides up to 64 partitions for disc-resident programs (from 2)
  • Supports 7900A and 7905A disc drives, disc-based Real-Time BASIC
  • Requires a 21MX with at least 32K words of memory.

RTE-III is a "fast track" project, developed quickly to take advantage of the DMS.

DSD management declares with certainty that there will be no further development on RTE. However, between 1976 and 1977 a division review will be held at which Bill Hewlett asks why no resources have been allocated to RTE and the HP 1000. According to the R&D section manager, suddenly the RTE lab finds itself swamped with money and has to invent ways to spend it.

Real-Time disc-based BASIC, a superset of RTE-B including a file system similar to HP 2000 Timeshared systems, is introduced.

The Satellite Communication Executives (SCE) appear at about this time. SCE/1 and SCE/2 are binary loaders for downloading absolute core images from a remote Central Communication Executive (CCE) host; SCE/2 is an enhanced version of SCE/1 with an interactive interface. SCE/3 allows a variety of network functions to be performed between an RTE-II or RTE-III CCE and a BCS satellite host.

(Jun) The first Computer Systems Communicator is published, containing how-to articles and Q&A columns of the kind common to user group publications today. It also contains product change information for the HP 2000/Access, HP 3000, and the HP 9600 Measurement and Control System, with a common section for general 21MX-based systems (BCS/DOS/RTE/Timeshared).

(Oct) The 21MXE, or "E-Series," processor is introduced and heralded as 40 percent faster than the 21MX in execution speed. The old 2IMX processor is now referred to as the 21 MX-M or the "M-Series," around which RTE-M (the second one) is later based.

(Oct) The HP 1000 system is introduced with the 21MXE, with these features:

  • Supports the 2644A, 2645A-007 terminals
  • Introduces IMAGE/1000, the first of HP's IMAGE products
  • Executes system generation and disc backups on-line
  • Replaces all 9600/9700s except the 9640A memory-based system.

The Computer Systems Communicator switches to coverage of HP 1000 computers instead of 9600/9700 Measurement and Control Systems. "Software Samantha," the pseudonym used in the Communicator by various DSD personnel to answer questions received by mail, assumes the HP 1000 software expert position vacated by 9600/9700 expert "Software Sam."

The 21MX-K ("K-Series") Miniprocessor, the 21MX processing board, is offered as a component product.

(Nov) RJE/1000, the "remote job entry" subsystem for submitting batch jobs from 1000s to IBM 360/370 systems, is introduced.

(Nov) The 9600-series product line is transferred back to AMD.

1977 (Mar) Memory-based RTE-M (the second one) with variants RTE-MI, RTE-MII, and RTE-MIII is introduced as the Model 20 system. RTE-M is probably based on RTE- III. DS/1000 is released with the following features:
  • Nodal addressing
  • Store-and-forward routing
  • Communication with HP 3000s running DS/3000
  • Arbitrary network topology, no longer limited to "star" configuration

The Communicator splits into three separate publications for 1000, 2000, and 3000 systems.

(May) The 2026 data entry and communication system is introduced, a product form of the 2000- based COMSYS communication system widely used throughout HP.

(May 1) Automatic Measurements Division (AMD) is absorbed into Data Systems Division.

About this time HP develops the HP 3000 "super-friendly" business computers (originally codenamed "Streaker" to emphasize speed, but later renamed "Amigo" to emphasize friendliness), although the computer is not announced until October 1978 due to a late release.

This is the third HP computer declared to be the replacement for the HP 1000 family; it is intended to be a general-purpose computer before it is reoriented to the business market. Apparently the efforts at friendliness reduce the realtime response and performance.

1978 (Apr) RTE-IV (later called RTE-IVA) is introduced with these features:
  • EMA; SHEMA not supported but people find it can be made to work
  • Large Background programs, which remove table areas and system drivers from program logical space
  • Parity error handling
  • "Slow boot" online I/O and memory reconfiguration
  • File system support for ASMB, FORTRAN, LOADR
  • The "Logical Source" and "Load and Go" disc areas are obsoleted.

Around this time the "LX' project is proposed, which aims to add the DMS (Dynamic Mapping System) to the (as yet unreleased) L-Series CPU, possibly as a coprocessor that would be compatible with the E/F-Series. This project is cancelled when the XL-Series project is begun. However, the former LX project evolves into the first A-Series processor project; the A700 processor is code-named "Phoenix" because it "rose from the ashes" of LX.

1979 The F-Series processor is introduced with the following features:
  • New Floating Point Processor hardware two and a half to six times faster than M/E-Series firmware
  • Scientific Instruction Set (SIS) microcode
  • Larger memory extender capacity

RTE-IVB releases, adding the Session Monitor to RTE-IV. Among the features are:

  • User and group security for devices and files, including the Session Switch Table (SST)
  • Spooling at the session level
  • Time-slicing

The RTE-IVB project is originally named RTE-V, but is renamed because of U.S. government procurement rules in effect at this time. If it were called RTEV, then the government would have to renegotiate the contracts. By naming it RTE-IVB, HP can claim that it is an "upgrade" to RTE-IV, and thus is covered under existing contracts. The RTE-6 project is apparently begun while the RTE-IVB project is still named RTE-V.

(Aug) The HP 1000 International Users Group (IUG) is formed.

(Oct) The L-Series ("Low-cost") processor is introduced with RTE-L, the new RTE design. This processor has no Dynamic Mapping System (DMS). The system is packaged in a large, squat box nicknamed the "washing machine." This is the first system to feature the Virtual Control Panel (VCP).

(Dec) The PLUS/1000 (Program Library of User Software) is created after reorganizing the former LOCUS library, to be the responsibility of the HP 1000 International Users Group.

The Corporate Computer Systems (CCS) company releases its HP/C compiler around this time.

1980 (Oct 10) The XL-Series with RTE-XL is released, expanding the memory capabilities of the L-Series. The L- and XL-Series become little more than a curious footnote in HP 1000 history, remarkable mainly as the precursors to the A-Series particularly in the I/O system. The XL-Series is a quick project, conceived in a Marriott hotel room, to add bank- switching to the L-Series on the memory card without modifying the processor, thus extending the memory size. As it turns out, the memory controller of the processor is modified to do this.

Pascal/1000 is introduced.

DS/1000-IV is released with the following features:

  • Dynamic rerouting
  • Message Accounting for reliability
  • Data link layer handled by a microprocessor on the interface card
  • Modem links between l000s and 3000s

(Nov) FORTRAN-4X is introduced.

(Dec) RTE-IVE ("Execute-only"), a memory-based RTE-IVB which obsoletes RTE-M, is announced.

At about this time, HP begins a project named the Vision Computer Family (VCF), a series of computers to replace all existing HP computers. Thus, this is the fourth computer designated as the successor to the HP 1000. The project is cancelled within the next two years.

Also at about this time the 2250 measurement and control system is built around an L- Series processor. This system is an important precursor to the R-cubed (later CDS) project because the code is in PROMs. This supplies insight into how difficult it is to implement pure code on the 1000.

1981 Revisions 2101, 2113, 2126, and 2140 release with these features:
  • Graphics/1000-II provides AGP/DGL
  • Many Pascal and DS fixes
  • Release of RTE-XL and profile monitor
  • RTE-M and BASIC/1000M are inactivated
  • RTE-IVE actually releases as part of RTE-IVB
  • All DS-lB bugs fixed, even though no subscription services are active

(Nov 1) RTE-6/VM announces with these features:

  • VMA (Virtual Memory Area) and SHEMA (Shareable EMA)
  • MLS (Multi-Level Segmentation), a.k.a. ECS (Extended Code Space)
  • 255 EQTs, more SAM, larger disc support, new HELP system
  • Critical portions of OS microcoded

1982 Revision 2201 releases, a small PCO only for RJE and FTN4X (to support EMA on RTE-6).

(Feb) The A600 ("Lightning") and A700 ("Phoenix") processors are announced - the A-Series ("the Automators") is born. The A-Series offers these features:

  • 1 MIPS, up to 32 Mbytes memory
  • L-series Distributed Intelligence I/O
  • A700 has optional H/W floating point @ 230,000 ops/sec

These processors run the forthcoming RTE-A.1 ("RTEsian") OS, based on RTE-XL. Around this time, a marketing manager arranges for Jim Henson to make muppets and train two muppeteers for HP 1000 product promotions. Known muppets are Luke Warmwater, Dr. B. A. Buffoon, Bruno (BA's assistant), and Dr. Blaze Pascal (another version of BA).

Release naming conventions change from the 4-digit revision codes to "a.yy" format, where "a" is an alphabetic release sequence indicator within the year. The first release is "A,"the second "B," and so on, and "yy" is the last two digits of the year. This is apparently to compensate for releases slipping in units of weeks; the new format takes any expectation of a week number out of the release name.

(Apr) Update B.82 (Revision 2213) releases with these features:

  • RTE-6/VM and RTE-A.1 released
  • FORTRAN 77, Macro/1000, and an enhanced Pascal released
  • DS/1000-IV support for X.25/1000

Update C.82 (Revision 2226) releases with these features:

  • Symbolic Debug support in RTE-6 and RTE-A.1, but no Debug/1000 yet
  • RTE-A.1 WH, profile monitor, and APLDR released
  • Link now supports RTE-6 as well as RTE-A. 1

1983 (Jan) The A900 ("Magic") processor is introduced with these features:
  • Cached, 2-level pipelined architecture Schottky TTL
  • 3 MIPS, 3.57 Mbytes/second I/O peak, 560,000 floating point operations per second
  • Up to 6M of ECC memory

The A900 is originally named the A800 but shortly before release, a marketing manager decides that the new processor is so much faster than the other CPUs that it deserves an even higher number. It is hastily renamed the A900.

(Jan 1) BASIC/1000C releases.

(Jan 1) Two new E/F-series systems are introduced, the 2178C (Model 60) and 2179C (Model 65). All previous E/F systems are discontinued due to RFI regulations.

(Feb) Symbolic Debug/1000 starts shipping. DSN/MRJE is announced.

(Mar) Quality Decision Management (QDM) announced.

(May) The A600 processor is replaced by the A600+, which adds CDS (VC+). The M- Series is "discontinued."

(Jun) RTE-II is inactivated. The A-Series Microsystems release.

Image/1000-II releases.

Update A.83 (Revision 2301) releases with these features:

  • Rev-B MUX releases
  • Various scattered fixes

Update B.83 (Revision 2326) releases with these features:

  • RTE-A is introduced, an enhanced version of RTE-A.1 which introduces the hierarchical file system, CI, DS file transparency, driver partitions, transportable programs, XLUEX, and a separate map for SAM
  • FTN7X is rewritten
  • VC+ (Virtual Code +) is introduced

(Oct) F/1000 (Forms) releases.

(Nov) The Application Migration Package (AMP) releases, assisting RTE-IVB and RTE-6 customers in porting code to HP-UX.

At around this time the HP 1000 International Users Group and the HP 3000 International Users Group combine to form INTEREX, The International Association of HP Computer Users.

1984 The HP 9000 HP-UX ("Spectrum") computers are introduced, the fifth computer intended to replace the 1000.

HP management makes perhaps the first concentrated effort to halt new development on the 1000 and taper off support. 1000 expertise in the field begins to become scarce as HP pours as much of its resources as possible into the HP-UX products. HP believes that RTE customers can port their applications to HP-UX with minimal performance overhead.

Release C.83 (Revision 2340) provides these features:

  • Various RTE-A fixes and enhancements
  • The CI command stack and CIX are introduced
  • The new file system, CI, and related utilities appear on RTE-6

(May) Graphics-II Version 2.0 releases.

Release A.84 (Revision 2401) contains these features:

  • Pascal version 2 supports modules and strings
  • Pascal and BASIC/1000C generate CDS code

(Nov) The SystemSafe/1000 ("ASAFE") project, to create fault-tolerant RTE-A systems, is cancelled. The hardware designers of this project will become the design team for the A400 processor.

1985 (Apr) The C-MUX releases for the A-Series.

(May) The A.85 release (Revision 2440) provides these features:

  • Many various fixes to RTE-A/RTE-6
  • Major enhancements to CI, PRINT
  • New utilities SAM and METER
  • I/O Extender support (dynamic port map allocation)
  • Unbuffered I/O; buffered VMAIO; write-thru-pending-read
  • Partitioning of RTE-A operating system modules
  • SPS/1000 support in RTE-A; session accounting
  • New file system features UDSPs and D.ERR
  • Many fixes to DS/1000-IV, Pascal, Image/1000, FTN7X
  • A few RTE-II, RTE-M, RTE-IVA, RTE-L fixes
  • A small handful of RTE-IVB and RTEXL fixes

The Communicator 1000 switches to the Software Update Notice (SUN) format, replacing the SUN. "How-to" articles and such are relegated to the INTEREX Users Group publications.

1986 DSP switches to a new release naming scheme that removes any references to intended release dates. The new scheme uses dotted notation to express major release and minor release numbers, similar to the numbering practiced by much of the rest of the industry. The traditional 4-digit revision codes are expressed as a 4-digit version of the release number, i.e., Release 4.1 will be designated "Rev. 4010." This doesn't catch on in time for the newly designated "4.0" release still in progress, however; revision code 2540 is still used in most 4.0 software. Release names such as "A.85" are abolished. This change results from embarrassment caused by recent updates which went over schedule and were released in the year following the year specified in the release name; the "B.84" update slipped into 1985 (becoming "A.85"), and the "B.85" update has now slipped into 1986. Curiously enough, the new release numbers start at 4.0 to continue the sequence of internally numbered RTE-A versions RTE-A.1, RTE-A.2, and RTE-A.3.

(Mar) NS/1000 Phase 1 releases with these features:

  • Based on TCP/IP protocols, but not certified DARPA-compatible
  • Supports LAN/1000 links
  • Backward-compatible with DS/1000-IV (except HP Data Link)

DataPair/1000 is to release, but does not ship until August.

RTE-II, RTE-III, and RTE-IVA are obsoleted.

DSD 4.0 Release (Revision 2540, a.k.a. "B.85" provides these features:

  • Over 700 SRs fixed as part of an all-out assault on the SR backlog named the Quality Improvement Project (QIP)
  • Table space increased through more partitionable RTE modules and resegmenting partitioned modules
  • FORMA and ERTSH introduced
  • AdvanceLink for the A-Series introduced
  • Symbolic Debug improved, especially in the area of CDS support

(May) The Ada/1000 project commences. DSP contracts with Alsys, Ltd. of England to write the compiler, binder, and most of the runtime system.

(Jun) NS/1000 Phase 2 releases adding support for HDLC links configured as routers or gateways.

(Nov) The A400 low-end A-Series processor ("Yellowstone") is introduced with these features:

  • CPU and 4 serial I/O ports (OBIO) on one 6.75" x 11.5" board
  • Same basic performance as an A600 at a 20-40 percent lower price

The HP 1000 hardware group disbands once the A400 is complete.

(Nov) The D-MUX is introduced with these features:

  • 38.4K baud rate support
  • Bi-directional XON/XOFF handshaking
  • User-definable termination characters; erasing backspace
  • Automatic baud rate generator configuration, port speed sensing

(Nov) The DSD 4.1 release provides these features:

  • New serial I/O drivers introduced which support the Rev-D MUX and the OBIO 4- channel MUX
  • FST introduced
  • NS/1000 NFT (DSCOPY) supported to/from 9000s, 3000s, VAX
  • DataPair supported in BOOTEX (size grows to 768 blocks)
  • LAN/1000 software shipped with RTE-A, rather than LAN/1000 H/W

(Dec) The portions of DSD specific to manufacturing automation are split into the Industrial Applications Center (IAC).

(Dec) RTE-IVB is discontinued, along with various E/F-Series products.

1987 (Feb) DSD is reorganized under the Manufacturing Systems Group, within the Technical Systems Sector (TSS). In June, the head of TSS will write an article published to the HP sales force that recognizes that the HP 1000 is a profitable product and encourages sales reps to sell it when appropriate, rather than always steering the customer to an HP 9000. This is perhaps the first statement by management that HP-UX cannot support many real- time applications, and is, therefore, not a direct replacement for RTE.

(Feb) Corporate Computer Systems (CCS) releases the CCS/C 1000 compiler, an improved C compiler with ANSI standard extensions. HP will later license this compiler from CCS as the HP C/1000 compiler.

(Jun) The F-Series is discontinued (the E-Series lives on, however).

(Aug) Snapshot/1000 is introduced.

(Aug) The DSD 5.0 release offers the following features:

  • Ada compiler support: timers, signals, init'ed VMA, Link performance (the compiler itself remains unreleased)
  • User groups and the GRUMP utility
  • Security/ 1000, LU access bitmaps, volume ownership and protection
  • FMP "./" and "7 directories
  • NS offers TELNET (supported between l000s only) and RPM
  • Debug/1000 adopts running programs, supports Pascal better
  • RTE-A adds XSAM Extended System Available Memory
  • Many changes to Edit, Macro, CI, Pascal; RTE-A adds SCOM
  • New ASIC driver for MUX compatibility (ID100)
  • Supports Coyote, Eagle, Hero, Gnu devices

(Oct) DSP moves from Building 42U in Cupertino to Building 101 in Sunnyvale, of the Pacific Technology Park (PTP) site.

1988 (Feb) DSP is renamed to Technical Systems Division (TSP) within the new Technical Computer Group (TCG). Most of TSP now handles HP 9000s, eventually splitting into the Workstation Technology Division (WTD).

(Feb) Networking release 5.05 supports TELNET between HP 9000s and l000s.

(Apr) Ada/l000 is announced, but is never marketed. It will soon be taken off the price list.

(Nov) TSP is reorganized under the Computer Systems Group (CSG) and renamed to Data Systems Operation (DSO). DSO's "mission statement" is formulated to encompass future realtime projects without specifically stepping on any other division's charter: "Real time is the opportunity."

Two new projects proposed by DSO engineers are soon given the go-ahead: the 32-Bit Real-Time project, which will become the "Next Generation" or Precision Architecture Real-Time (PA-RT or HP-RT) project, and a new high-end A-Series processor design, which will become the A990 ("Millennium") CPU.

1989 The DSO 5.1 release (formerly called "TSD 5.1") provides the following features:
  • The MPACK file system packing utility
  • PL, IDDUP, prototype-IPs
  • The D-MUX on RTE-6
  • New command stack library routines
  • The CM program on RTE-6
  • Various enhancements to Edit, IO, LI, WH, SCOM
  • Peripheral support: 9153C, 9122C, LJ II,LJ 2000, Desk Jet, 7961A

RTE-IVB is frozen at 5.1 ($MATH library changes are causing problems).

(May) Networking release 5.16 introduces ARPA/1000, a subset of NS/1000 dedicated to the inter-vendor TCP/IP networking applications. ARPA/1000 includes functionality not yet included with NS/1000, notably the FTP and PING utilities, as well as support for Ethernet LAN protocols.

(Sep) The E-Series family is discontinued.

(Nov) The A700 processor is discontinued due to declining sales. Customers are buying either the A600+ or the A900 instead.

1990 The DSO 5.2 release offers the following features:
  • Remote VCP over LAN
  • Class limits; console-less BOOTEX
  • Mail/1000
  • RAM disks, NS on RAM disks in memory-based systems
  • NS/ARPA, which adds the new ARPA/ 1000 services to NS/1000
  • NS/ARPA subnetting
  • DS/1000-IV hierarchical file system support

DSO moves back to building 42U in Cupertino.

(May) The A-Series SCSI Interface is introduced, with support for the HP Series 6300 Model 650/A rewriteable optical disk (Release 5.21).

1991 (Feb) The portion of the Information Networks Division (IND) concerned with 1000 networking products (NSARPA/1000 and such) is absorbed back into Data Systems.

(Mar) Release 5.22 of SCSI/1000 supports DAT and hard disk drives.

(Apr) Release 5.23 of SCSI/1000 fixes a number of bugs.

DSO modifies both the release numbering scheme and the 4-digit revision code format to add another digit of precision, thereby allowing patches of off-cycle releases to be expressed. The existing revision code format of:
(major_release)"0"(minor_release)(off-cycle_release or patch_number)
is amended to:
(major _ release)(minor _ release)(off-cycle_release)(patcb_number)
where (patch_number) is zero for any major/minor/off-cycle release, and non-zero for a patch to a release. Examples: 6000 = 6.0; 5240 5.2.4; 5231 =

(Jun 21) DSO is reorganized to become a part of the Measurement and Control Systems Division (MCSY): "MCSY West."

(Oct) NS/ARPA revision 5240 (5.24) releases with these features:

  • Berkeley Sockets (BSD IPC) interface provided
  • TELNET supports block-mode applications
  • Performance improvements

(Nov) The HP C/1000 C compiler is introduced. HP C/1000 is a slightly modified version of CCS C/1000, which HP has licensed from Corporate Computer Systems, Inc. HP C/1000 adopts the same revision number as the corresponding CCS C/1000 product, revision 3.2. At the same time, revision 5260 (5.26) of Symbolic Debug is released, which supports HPC/1000.

(Nov) SCSI/1000 release 5.25 supports booting RTE from SCSI devices.

Many thanks for the retentive memories of George Anzinger, Alan Tibbetts, John Johnson, and the various other contributors too numerous to mention. Thanks also to the collectors of information: John Stafford, Earl Kieser, Karen Lewis arid the HP Company Archives, and the DSO Online group.

Todd Poynor joined Data Systems RTE development lab in 1985. He holds a BS degree in Computer Science from CSU Chico, but his real education started at the Data Systems development lab in 1985.

If you have comments, additions, corrections,... let the author know. Write to: Todd Poynor, Hewlett-Packard Company, 1 1000 Wolfe Road, Bldg 42UN, Cupertino, CA 95014. Or send e-mail to: todd@hpepoc.cup.hp.com (NOTE: Todd no longer works for HP and his where-abouts is unknown)