I am currently writing a compiler for the PDP-8. The compiler is going to translate source code into PDP-8 assembly code that calls some runtime routines to perform high-level functions such as managing call frames.

I am currently using Douglas Jones' PAL assembler which turns out to be rather annoying for my use case as it

  • does not support underscores or dollar signs in identifiers
  • does not allow the assembly code to be split into multiple files

As a consequence, the compiler has to do some copy-paste action to combine the runtime code with the compiled program. Linking is also not easily possible.

Is there an assembler for the PDP-8 that provides an object-file based process with a final linking stage so my compiler could emit object files that are linked into a single core image by a linker?

  • Not an answer, because I have no PDP-8 experience, but a suggestion: you may find a linker in one of the existing language systems for the PDP-8, such as the FORTRAN IV for OS/8. If so, it will presumably give clues about assemblers you can use with it. May 3, 2019 at 15:36
  • There are a few PDP emulators running Unix, would that fit your (temporary?) needs? May 9, 2019 at 10:20
  • 1
    @RuiFRibeiro I don't think they ever made UNIX for the PDP-8. Are you thinking about the PDP-11?
    – fuz
    May 9, 2019 at 12:25

1 Answer 1


The PiDP-8 project has a wonderful Field Guide to PDP-8 Assemblers, which reviews most (all?) of the PDP-8 assemblers available.

SMAL, SABR and RALF have linkable objects that may fit your needs. A partial C cross-compiler for the PDP-8 exists, and uses SMAL.

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