Reviewer:Tony Di Cenzo (EBD 1974-1995)
October 28, 2021 Subject:
TSS/8, a great first time sharing system
I am amazed no one has reviewed this. Well, i feel qualified since i spent 3 years as a user (1968-71].
First, the facts of the product. A very early time sharing operating system. My use was on a PDP-8/I. It may have run on othr variants of the 8. When it rolled in the door, the 8\I had two bays and supported maybe 5 teletypes. When i left the college it had 5 bays and supported 20 VT05 CRTs.
Each use, got to program in a 4K slice of memory. We were in heaven. It has a version of Dartmouth Basic, Fortran, PAL assembler, and other. “Languages”. Our machine was used for comp sci instruction, so it was perfect.
Our machine had two DECtape decks, a paper tape reader and two RK05 disk drivea that accepted disk cartridges the size of 1” pizza pans. I beliieve we had 24k of CORE memory. Little tiny donut shaped cores and could be magnitized on or off (0 or 1).
TSS/8 ran well, but needed attendants. I managed a team of 10 students who kept it running. A good job for a strugging 18 year old student. (I was also the colleges official prograrmmer).
The 8 was an easy machine to learn and program.
So a couple of stories.
Our machine rolled in on a friday and saturday morning I went in early (I had a key to the collegej and there was a guy dressed in shorts, tee-shirt, sneakers, no socks and long hair, sitting at the console loading paper tapes. “what are you doing at my machine?” His name was Jim and he wrote TSS/8. I asked a million questions and i became a test site. I was even given a printout of the code which i devoured.
The field service guy was wonderful too. While he fixed things (a lot!j i asked questions. When i told him i wanted to work for DEC when i graduated he said to call once I graduated. He later because the regional service manager.
DECs Small Systems handbook and TSS/8 sYstems handbooks were the gospel for thia product. A great product.