Real Time Operating System “OSCAR”

In 1969 I worked at an industrial research laboratory designing factory automation systems using mainly TTL IC hardware. I was interested in doing some of this work in software using the newly emerging mini-computers. To come up to speed I studied at night for a Masters degree in computer science at the University of NSW (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia.

As part of this course, I designed and programmed a “Real-Time Operating System” for programming Real-Time Control Systems. It was called a Monitor at the time. The first version of this program was implemented on a PDP-8 minicomputer in the Electrical Engineering department of the university. Afterwards, I ported the software to a Data General NOVA mini-computer for my then employer (which was not a good idea I discovered later). I gave the system the acronym OSCAR for Operating System CSR Automation Research.

For the 50th anniversary, I obtained a PDP-8/I kit from Oscar Vermeulen in Holland, which works beautifully. The kit has an exact facsimile of a PDP-8/I front panel with working switches and lights. In the back is a Raspberry Pi running the SIMH PDP-8 emulator software with all major PDP-8 system programs on a simulated RK05 disc. I was able to reconstitute all the OSCAR sources from printouts I have and assemble and run it all, as I did 50 years ago (see PDP-8 sources).

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