Will Hartung
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When did an overlay linker first appear in a PDP-11 UNIX OS?
3 votes

Doing a search on The UNIX Historical Society for 'overlay', the earliest reference I could find was on 2.9BSD. There seemed to be a system call designed specifically to support overlays. No doubt the ...

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Definitive list of music bands/groups that included computer programs on their analogue audio music physical media releases (LPs, singles)
4 votes

Isao Tomita encoded messages in the TARBEL (actually Tarbell) cassette format on his album "The Bermuda Triangle" from 1979.

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What windowing system had the first size-proportional scroll bar?
28 votes

Can't say I know for sure. But I'll ante up Smalltalk 80 (or even earlier, ST-72, 76, 78).

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Cheapest way to store and load small dataset in the 80s?
6 votes

The cheapest mechanism was paper. The storage method was printing it out. The entry method was typing it in. This is a tried and true technique that flourished into the 90s and is arguably still used ...

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Porting use of BASIC to-the-power ^ operator
21 votes

They likely translated some formula literally where the 10 was actually some variable, but in their use case, it was fixed at 10. For your purposes you can safely use 100.

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Did any compilers hash long symbol names when truncating them?
Accepted answer
21 votes

I can't speak to whether any compilers did this. I can only examine why they probably didn't. The simplest reason is performance. Hashing is CPU intensive. Having to hash every single identifier gets ...

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Why do variable names in BASIC need type suffixes?
7 votes

Akin to Raffzahn's answer, yes, because it's BASIC. That said, later BASICs had DEFINT, DEFSTR, and such to set the types of variables upfront, so that you no longer had to use suffixes. Similar to ...

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The Slowest Microprocessor
18 votes

Going with the spirit of the question. A quick glance at Wikipedia's Microprocessor Chronology we find: PPS-4 from Rockwell at 200 kHz PPS-8 from Rockwell at 256 kHz TMS 1000 from TI at 400 kHz PPS-...

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Why didn't C++ specify filename extensions?
85 votes

Because it's not important to ... anything. The compilers don't care. The editors don't care. Back in the day, some operating systems didn't even HAVE "file extensions". DOS mandated them, ...

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When and why did high-level language compilers start targeting assembly language rather than machine code?
7 votes

Turbo Pascal was made famous specifically because it skipped the assembly step (as well as most of the linking step). In a single pass it created raw, absolute located binary code and saved a lot of ...

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Z80 to x86 asm translator?
Accepted answer
23 votes

I'm going to say "No" simply because the 8086 doesn't support the alternate registers of the Z80. That was a fairly important concept that you can not directly mimic on the 8086. Mind, if ...

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Were there any filesystems support tag based key-value pairs before the 90s?
Accepted answer
7 votes

It would be remiss to neglect the original Mac HFS with its core support of the Resource Fork. A normal Macintosh file had two forks: the data fork, and the resource fork. The resource fork was a key/...

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How did the Apple IIGS automatically slow 5.25 inch disk I/O code for backwards compatability?
8 votes

In reference to the comment "Any idea how the IIGS implements those Disk II motor detectors?" There's this Technical Note #68: Tips for I/O Expansion Slot Card Design. It says: On the Apple ...

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Uh, oh, I've woken up in 1973. Can I get a job in computing?
4 votes

Depends on the position. Honestly, you're not really qualified for a lot of the work. You don't know the languages, you don't know the operations, much of the work is routine processing and ETL, so it'...

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Benchmark test that was used to characterize an 8-bit CPU?
3 votes

There were several, but the Sieve benchmark is probably one of the most famous.

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What did order processing on a teletype look like?
5 votes

First, Payroll is really apt for batch processing. It runs once a week or twice a month in general, and it tends to be all done at once on "payday". So each week the operators key in the ...

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Documents about timesharing systems, access and resource control and its financials
3 votes

Another aspect to consider in this discussion is the EDI VANs. EDI is Electronic Data Interchange, and is part and parcel to the wholesale/retailer supply chain. In brief terms, it's a way for ...

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In what language(s) is the return value set by assigning to the function’s name?
52 votes

Pascal does this, I don't know of others. Don't know if the practice move forward with other Wirth languages.

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Make the "z80asm" assembler place an instruction at a known memory address
11 votes

The problem with Z80ASM specifically is that it takes the assembly input and spits out a static binary file. This is good and bad. In "normal" systems, address assignment is, inevitably, the ...

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What software used Turbo Vision back in its prime time?
6 votes

You have to appreciate that the vast bulk of software written in the world never sees the light of day outside of the business that created it. There are millions of programmers worldwide working ...

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How was it possible to run IBM mainframe software in emulation on HP?
Accepted answer
11 votes

I don't know what environment they installed to run their software on the HP. The vendor did all the work. For all I know it was just raw COBOL with an IBM compatible runtime running on top of HP-UX. ...

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What was the most critical supporting software for COBOL on IBM mainframes?
5 votes

Different things happened. One, when mainframes were replaced, their applications were replaced with new applications written in modern languages for the new platforms. Many a IBM mainframe have been ...

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Why did decimal arithmetic slow down VisiCalc?
8 votes

6502 supported SIMPLE BCD arithmetic. I would bet that the VisiCalc guys in the end didn't even use that feature and wrote the whole thing from scratch. There's not just addition and subtraction, ...

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How was the main mechanic of the game Qix implemented?
2 votes

I can't say, I didn't write it, and I haven't seen the game in some time. But the fill is pretty simple as I recall. Remember, that the boundary that is drawn does not have to be square, or a straight ...

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How did databases use the 8087?
Accepted answer
6 votes

You need to understand that using the 8087 was effectively "free" for the developers and for the users. You linked in a floating point library that determined the existence of the 8087, and ...

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Why were there no 32-bit or 64-bit versions of the m68k & 65xx lines of CPUs?
6 votes

Because binary compatibility in most cases is overrated and not worth compromising a design to maintain. The only reason to extend a chip family like that is to maintain binary compatibility. In ...

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TRS-80 Accessory - Data Drawer File System
6 votes

Following up on @snips-n-snails. The use case for this is to organize printouts for reference. A simple example is that if someone wanted the ID of a vendor or customer, it was not untoward at the ...

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is it possible to renew a solaris license for an Sun ultra workstation
2 votes

This sounds more like they're interested in a license for "sparcworks" rather than Solaris itself. According to Wikipedia, this product is now known as Oracle Developer Studio after going ...

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Would some BASIC interpreters for microcomputers be considered operating systems?
4 votes

I would say "no". If anything, the BASIC might be considered the "command line" for the system, but not the OS itself. If you step back to other system, such as the DEC PDP's. ...

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Working on programming a retro z80 computer (SDCC error)
Accepted answer
5 votes

The problem is that you're trying to access the function parameter data, but the compiler does not expose that as a symbol to the internal assembler, so it's looking in the public, global namespace ...

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