All the Altair languages -- and new ones?

General discussions related to the Altair 8800 Clone

All the Altair languages -- and new ones?

Postby mail@gabrielegan.com » September 29th, 2016, 7:51 am

I'm thinking of opening my Altair lab to a wider body of students and am wanting to specify the full list of computer programming languages that we can teach using the Altair. Looking over the manuals on the Clone website, it looks like we could readily support the following:

Machine Code (by toggling the switches)
Assembly Language
Very Tiny Language (=VTL)
BASIC
FORTRAN

Have I missed any languages for which there are compilers/interpreters easily available? And what is the potential for adding new languages to this list? That is to say, what would it take to get the Altair running, oh I don't know, say:

Pascal
Lisp
Algol
C
Perl
Python

?

Regards

Gabriel Egan
De Montfort University
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Re: All the Altair languages -- and new ones?

Postby toml_12953 » September 29th, 2016, 8:17 am

Years ago (obviously) in Byte Magazine there was a two-part article on writing a Tiny Pascal compiler in BASIC. The version of BASIC used was NorthStar but I ported it to Altair BASIC with no problem. It first compiled to p-code then you could run the p-code through a program (not published) to convert to 8080 machine code. I implemented the p-code compiler/interpreter but not the 8080 code generator. I could send you reprints of the article if you'd like. Not only can the students learn Pascal but see how a compiler is written as well.

Tom L
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Re: All the Altair languages -- and new ones?

Postby AltairClone » September 29th, 2016, 11:03 am

Gabriel,

BDS C was a popular and fast version of C for the 8080 processor. A bootable disk image is in the CP/M 2.2 folder on the Clone support page. Look for "BDSC.DSK" on this page, http://altairclone.com/downloads/cpm/CPM%202.2/

Also, Gene Buckle has put together a great website of old commericial software at http://www.retroarchive.org/. You can find languages for CP/M (most are 8080 compatible, some require CP/M 86) at http://www.retroarchive.org/cpm/lang/lang.htm.

Mike
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Re: All the Altair languages -- and new ones?

Postby mail@gabrielegan.com » September 29th, 2016, 5:36 pm

Thanks, Mike, for the pointer to that software archive. I don't know enough about the various versions of CP/M to be sure, but it looks like the software identified there as being suitable for CP/M-80 and CP/M-86 won't work on the CPMs supplied here on the Altair Clone website, but that other software (where a version of CP/M isn't identified) will work. At least, I tried the Pascal compilers that are listed as being for "CP/M-80" and they hung the Altair (or rather my SIMH virtual Altair running CP/M 2.2). And I tried the ALGOL-M compiler (no version of CP/M specified) and it worked! That's great -- two new languages already, C and Algol, that I can add to the list of ones I can teach with the Altair Clone. I'll continue trying the other languages in that software archive and report back when I have a complete list. Very excited to see if Pascal and Lisp will work ...

Thanks, Tom, for the offer regarding Tiny Pascal -- I'll pursue that if the Pascals Mike has pointed me to don't work.

Regards

Gabriel Egan
De Montfort University

PS I was kind of kidding about Perl and Python -- I know they post-date the Altair by some way!
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Re: All the Altair languages -- and new ones?

Postby AltairClone » September 29th, 2016, 6:55 pm

CP/M-80 is the original CP/M (e.g., 8080, Z80), however, if you're trying to run Turbo PASCAL (for example), even though it runs under CP/M, it requires a Z80 processor. You can run it under SIMH by choosing the Z80 processor in SIMH.

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Re: All the Altair languages -- and new ones?

Postby AltairClone » October 1st, 2016, 2:34 pm

I installed Turbo PASCAL 3.01 on my North Star Horizon (Z80 CPU) running CP/M 2.2. Seems to work well. I compiled and ran their sample project - a fairly good sized program that implements a simple spreadsheet.

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Re: All the Altair languages -- and new ones?

Postby mail@gabrielegan.com » November 5th, 2016, 6:05 am

I've just discovered that I don't know how to send/receive files to/from my PC to an installation of CP/M on my Altair. I can send whole disks (.dsk files) to the Altair using the Altair Configuration Menu and TeraTerm on my PC, but I want to send/receive individual files to/from CP/M. The obvious choice of CP/M software to do this is Kermit, so I've loaded the Kermit disk image on the Altair (which I believe gives me CP/M 2.2a) but when I run Kermit on the the Altair and try to have it 'Receive' a file, and have TeraTerm do a Kermit 'Send', the two of them don't manage to communicate: the file transfer progress bar stays at zero percent.

Could someone talk me through a Kermit session between CP/M on the the Altair and TeraTerm on the PC? Or if Kermit is not the best solution, could someone talk me through some other way of getting files from my PC to CP/M on the Altair? I'm doing this because I want to install the various Altair-compatible programming language packages that have been identified on this thread.

Gabriel Egan
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Re: All the Altair languages -- and new ones?

Postby AltairClone » November 5th, 2016, 8:25 am

Gabriel,

Use PCGET and PCPUT. These should already be on your CP/M disk. These are essentially XMODEM just pre-configured for the Altair. PCGET receives a file from a PC and PCPUT sends a file to a PC. In your terminal emulator on the PC, use the option to send or receive a file with the XMODEM protocol. Choose "checksum" version of the protocol of your terminal emulator has an option.

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Re: All the Altair languages -- and new ones?

Postby mail@gabrielegan.com » November 21st, 2016, 10:53 am

That worked, Mike -- many thanks.

I now have Altairs running the languages Assembler, BASIC, FORTRAN, Algol-M (an Algol-60 clone), Pascal, and C. I've failed to get ADA and COBOL running. If anybody has either of these two running, or any other languages apart from these, I'd be most interested to hear how it was done.

Regards

Gabriel Egan
Minimal Computing Lab, De Montfort University
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Re: All the Altair languages -- and new ones?

Postby AltairClone » November 22nd, 2016, 10:07 am

Great work Gabriel!

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