[fpc-devel] Episode 4. Addressing and it's limits Part Two

Mark Morgan Lloyd markMLl.fpc-devel at telemetry.co.uk
Thu Feb 9 15:08:24 CET 2012

steve smithers wrote:

> Regardless of what you may believe, FreePascal is not the first compiler to be
> implemented on 370 architecture.  Should I tell tell their developers that 370
> architecture is too much like a dinosaur to write a 32 bit compiler.  IBM had 32
> bit compilers available in the 1960's.  Should I tell them that the architecture
> is "broken". It's been around for 50 years and there are hundreds of compilers
> available for it.  From FORTRAN to GCC, from COBOL to ADA or from PASCAL/VS to
> APL.  All of these were (for the ones that were available from the late
> 60's) 32 bit compilers.

I feel I have to respond to this after a couple of things I've read over 
the last day or so. I for one have never attempted to belittle "big 
iron", since it has always seemed clear to me that that type of kit has 
its uses: if nothing else then to do things like running the name and 
certificate servers that keep distributed systems going. It's also worth 
noting that IBM and Burroughs did engage in controlled decentralisation 
quite early, putting a significant amount of "smarts" in their terminals 
well in advance of anything done by their "trendier" competitors such as 

In the current case I was relying on the precedent set by the GCC 
porters and the Linux maintainers to say "OK, we need to have some 
policy to determine what vintage of hardware is supported". However 
noting the availability of old IBM operating systems and the interest 
people have in running them, and in particular noting the amount of work 
being put into the OS/380 project, I'm fairly rapidly coming to the 
conclusion that the S/370 is worth supporting, even if we brush the 
S/360 under the carpet.

However I'm disturbed by comments like this from the mainflame brigade:

"...strong suggestions that IBM should provide their own EBCDIC-based 
operating system and integrated-circuit microprocessor chip for use in 
the IBM Personal Computer as a CICS intelligent terminal (instead of the 
incompatible ASCII-based Intel chip, and immature Microsoft 1980 DOS)."


"Also, the standard character set on the 360/370/Z-System is EBCDIC, 
while the Pentium uses ASCII."

If the community can't get its head around the idea that character 
encoding is much more an operating system than a hardware issue, that 
the Intel/AMD range of processors could happily run an EBCDIC-based 
operating system, and that IBM gleefully supports ASCII-based Linux and 
ASCII-based Internet services then it's going to be damn difficult to 
get this (sub)project off the ground.

Mark Morgan Lloyd
markMLl .AT. telemetry.co .DOT. uk

[Opinions above are the author's, not those of his employers or colleagues]

More information about the fpc-devel mailing list