Search the FAQ Archives

3 - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M
N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z - Internet FAQ Archives

PDP-8 Frequently Asked Questions (posted every other month)
Section - What programming languages are supported on the PDP-8

( Single Page )
[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index | Business Photos and Profiles ]

Top Document: PDP-8 Frequently Asked Questions (posted every other month)
Previous Document: What operating systems were written for the PDP-8?
Next Document: Where can I get PDP-8 software?
See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
The PAL family of assembly languages, particularly PAL III and PAL8 are
as close to a standard assembly language as can be found for the PDP-8;
these are included with all OS/8 distributions.  They produce absolute
object code and there are versions of PAL for minimally configured
machines, although these have severe symbol table limitations.  Cross
assemblers that are somewhat compatable with PAL can be obtained from:

MACRO-8 was DEC's first macro assembly language for the PDP-8, but it
was rarely used outside the paper-tape environment.  MACREL and SABR are
assembly languages that produce relocatable output.  SABR is the final
pass for the ALICS II FORTRAN compiler (developed by ICS); it is included
with the standard OS/8 software distributions.  Source for these is
available from:

MACREL was developed in (unfulfilled) anticipation of similar use.  MACREL
was heavily used by the DECmate group at DEC.  MACREL is available from:

RALF, the relocatable assembler supporting RTPS FORTRAN is also included
in OS/8 standard distributions.  FLAP, an absolute assembler, was derived
from RALF.  Both SABR and RALF/FALP are assemblers that handle their
intended applications but have quirky and incompatible syntax.

A subset of FORTRAN was supported on both the PDP-5 and the original
PDP-8.  Surviving documentation describes a DEC compiler written in 1964
by Larry Portner, nicknamed "Fivetran", and a compiler written by
Information Control Systems from 1968.  The latter, ALICS II FORTRAN,
was originally a paper tape based compiler, but it forms the basis of
the OS/8 8K FORTRAN compiler, and was also adapted to the Disk Monitor
System (the latter version had overlay support that was never carried
forward into more modern systems).

RTPS FORTRAN required 8K and a floating point processor; it had real-time
extensions and was a full implementation of FORTRAN IV (also known as
ANSI FORTRAN 66).  OS/8 F4 is RTPS FORTRAN stripped of the requirement
for hardware floating point (if the hardware is missing, it uses
software emulation).  Versions of FORTRAN is available from

FOCAL, an interpretive language comparable to BASIC, was available on
all models of the family, including the PDP-5 and PDP-8/S.  Versions of
FOCAL run under OS/8, P?S/8 and other systems, and there were many special
purpose overlays for FOCAL developed by DEC and by various users.  DEC's
later FOCAL releases for the PDP-8 included code to deliberately introduce
subtle bugs when run on a DCC 112 computer!  Various versions of FOCAL
are available from:

Many versions of BASIC were also available, from DEC and other sources.
DEC BASIC was widely used on PDP-8 systems sold under the EduSystem
marketing program.  A paper-tape version was available that ran in 4K
and was compatible with disk based systems, versions distributed with
OS/8 and TSS-8, an 8K stand-alone time-sharing version was available,
and there were others.  EduSystem 25 Basic is available from:

The source code for TSS-8 Basic is available from

DIBOL was DEC's attempt at competing with COBOL in the commercial arena.
It was originally implemented under MS/8 but most versions were sold to
run under the COS operating system.

Algol was available from a fairly early date.  One version is available

At least two Pascal compilers were developed for the PDP-8.  One was a
Pascal-S interpreter, written in assembler, the other was a Pascal-P
compiler with a P-code interpreter written in assembler.
A Pascal S interpreter, requiring a 28K PDP-8/E configuration, is available

Another OS/8 Pascal system, the source code for which was rescued by
Larwrence LeMay, is available from:

A LISP interpreters was written for the PDP-8; the original version
ran in 4K (originally written in Germany?); a disassembled and commented
version of this was the basis of expanded versions that eventually
could utilize up to 16K.  One version of LISP is available from:

POLY SNOBOL was a version of SNOBOL that was somewhere between
Griswold's definitions of SNOBOL 3 and SNOBOL 4.

TECO, the text editor, was included in the standard OS/8 distributions and
is a general purpose language (the Emacs editor began as a set of TECO
macros!).  The story of TECO on the PDP-8 is convoluted.  Russ Hamm
implemented TECO under his OS8 (without a slash) system, and then gave
a listing to Don Baccus at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
(OMSI) who, along with Barry Smith ported it to PS/8.  This was the
beginning of what became Oregon Software, later famous for OMSI Pascal.

Richard F. Lary and Stan Rabinowitz made OS/8 TECO more compatible with
other versions of TECO, and the result of this work is the version
distributed by DECUS (catalog number 110450 is the manual).  RT-11 TECO
for the PDP-11 is a port of this code.

DECUS also lists the PAGE8 language (catalog numbers 800936), the VISTA
editor (catalog number 800938), and the ICE text editor (catalog number

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:


Top Document: PDP-8 Frequently Asked Questions (posted every other month)
Previous Document: What operating systems were written for the PDP-8?
Next Document: Where can I get PDP-8 software?

Single Page

[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index ]

Send corrections/additions to the FAQ Maintainer: (Douglas W. Jones)

Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM