STL Online Computer System(ID:5934/stl001)

Improved version of Tanoga Park CFS 


For Space Technology Lab

TRW's improved version of CFS.

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Related languages
Culler-Fried System => STL Online Computer System   Evolution of
STL Online Computer System => AMTRAN   Evolution of
STL Online Computer System => TOCS   Evolution of

References:
  • Farrington, CC and Pope, D "STL On-Line Computer: Vol 2 User's Manual", Thompson Ramo Wooldridge Inc., 9824-6001-RU-000, Redondo Beach, Calif. 1964. view details
  • Fried, B. D. "STL On-Line Computer: Vol 1 General Description", Thompson Ramo Wooldridge Inc., 9824-6001-RU-000, Redondo Beach, Calif. 1964. view details
  • Fried, B.D., On-Line Problem Solving, Thompson Ramo Wooldridge Inc., 9863-6001-ROOO, Redondo Beach, Calif. (1966). view details
  • Wood, L. H., Reinfelds, J., Seitz, R. N, and Clem, P. L., Jr. "The AMTRAN System" pp22-27 view details Extract: General philosophy
    General philosophy
    AMTRAN is a multi-level language. It can be used by the Systems programmer at the level of bit manipulation or by the applied mathematician with no prior knowledge of computing, or by practitioners at any intermediate level. The system can be used in an on-line, conversational mode or in an off-line, batch-processing mode or in any combina­tion of the two. The keyboards, cathode ray scopes and typewriters provide low-cost adjuncts to the usual card, printer, tape, and plotter attachments.
    Three objectives have been of primary importance in the development of the AMTRAN system.
    First, a scientist or an engineer with no background in computer techniques should be able to solve relatively straightforward mathematical problems with little or no instruction in the use of the AMTRAN system. For this pur­pose, the system has standard "convenience" operators in the language of classical mathematics, such as F, d/dx mini-max, etc., which suffice for a large fraction of the problems commonly encountered by the scientist or engineer.
    Also, the AMTRAN language has been considerably streamlined to permit the user to "converse" with the com­puter in the natural language of mathematics. For example, the system provides automatic array arithmetic, automatic dynamic dimensioning of arrays, no declaration of vari­ables, automatic assignment of working storage, implied multiplication, natural-English input and output, "picture" formatting, and other adjuncts to natural mathematics.
    Second, the programmer and the more experienced user'should be provided with the capability to construct their own programs and operators at the keyboard so that they can handle problems for which the standard set of opera­tors is inadequate and so that they can take advantage of the extremely short turnaround times which are character­istic of conversation-mode programming. This requirement has been met by including algol 60 programming capa­bilities with certain programming extensions?e.g., high- level logical and transfer instructions, extensive list-processing and symbol manipulation capabilities, graphical input and output instructions, etc. Perhaps the most im­portant feature is a simplified procedure-and-operator gen­eration arrangement which permits the construction from the keyboard of general-purpose "super-instructions." These can then be stored in a disc-file library. This means that the programmer is not restricted to 30 to 40 basic FORTRAN-level instructions, but can, in effect, draw upon a repertoire of hundreds or thousands of general-purpose mathematical and logical procedures as building blocks for his programs.
    Third, the system must be economically competitive with batch-processing systems in speed and storage. This re­quirement will be met through an incremental compiler. Extract: Conclusion
    Conclusion
    An effort has been made in the development of AMTRAN to develop a broad-based programming system which spans the spectrum from a streamlined machine language for the professional programmer to the highest level mathematical operations (for the scientist or engineer).
    In addition to the writing of an incremental compiler, future plans call for effort in the areas of symbol manipulation, automatic numerical analysis, and the introduction of new simplified basic programming operations. It is hoped that these improvements, particularly in the symbol manipulation area, will improve the programming checkout and debugging rates beyond their present values. Turnaround times are presently running 5% to 10% of the batch processing rates.
    An interesting result of our demonstrations has been the response of scientists and engineers to the system. The reaction is invariably "Where can I get one of these?". There is no doubt that a market exists for a conversational-mode computer system which speaks the natural language of. mathematics as nearly as possible, and which relieves the user of all those programming and analytical bookkeeping operations which can be prescribed in "cook-book" terms. Of course, incorporating the procedures of classical and numerical analysis into an on-line computer system is a formidable task. Nevertheless, we hope AMTRAN will provide a first step toward everyday use of an automatic mathematical system for on-line computation.
    Extract: Other conversational mode systems
    Other conversational mode systems
    The basic inspiration for AMTRAN was the Thompson-Ramo-Wooldridge on-line computer system originated by G. J. Culler and B. D. Fried and later extended by Culler at the Univ. of California (Santa Barbara). The Culler-Fried system utilizes a 5-inch Tektronix storage scope, a typewriter keyboard, and another typewriter keyboard with specially-labeled operator keys. The system possesses the ability to handle complex numbers, two-dimensional arrays, vectors and matrices. It is designed to permit the console programming of operators or instructions and it also provides array arithmetic. It is very fast in execution. Although there are similarities between AMTRAN and the Culler-Fried systems, there are also sizable differences.
    Another early conversational mode system consists of the RAND Corporations highly-polished JOSS system, which has formed the basis for the Burroughs INTERP system and the SDS CAL language. Four more recent conversational mode languages are quiktran (ibm's conversational-mode fortran system), and the MAP, Reckoner, and COGO systems. The Reckoner and MAP systems are quite similar to AMTRAN in their provision of a streamlined, applied-mathematics language for scientists and engineers. The COGO system is a problem-oriented language designed to accommodate civil engineering problems.
    Two on-line batch-processing systems which use special high-speed compilers consist of the Klerer-May system and Dartmouth's BASIC language. The Klerer-May system is particularly strong in its emphasis upon natural mathematical formatting of its input and output. General Electric has implemented BASIC on a commercial basis.
    AMTRAN differs from the preceding systems in various ways. It has been given certain features intended to facilitate future research in applied mathematics. It should be emphasized that AMTRAN is a full-scale ALGOL-type programming system and not a simplified language designed only for small computations or for a narrow range of problems.
    Two restricted versions of AMTRAN are presently available which can be used on any IBM 1620 computer with floating point hardware and indirect addressing capabilities.
    One version is intended for 1620's with 40,000 digits of core storage while the other is designed for 60,000 digit machines. No special equipment is needed except for the usual console typewriter and a card-reader punch. Copies of these 1620 programs are available from the authors upon request.
    Although these restricted versions are designed for small core machines, they possess considerable power. Virtually all of the capabilities of the 1620 version of fortran ii are present, in addition to automatic array arithmetic multi-level programming of operators, rudimentary symbol manipulation capability, the Algol IF test, subscripted subscripts, and above all, the ability to deal with straightforward problems at approximately. the level of classical mathematical analysis. Through an encoding arrangement, this system can store up to 50 console programs or subroutines and can accommodate matrices or two-dimensional arrays up to 25 x 25. (When small desk-top computers become economically feasible, a 4-8,000 word edition of AMTRAN could combine the mathematical power of a digital computer with the simplicity and convenience of a slide rule.)
    A more elaborate system utilizing one of the special terminals -described in this article has been implemented on IBM 1620 mod II computer with a disc file.
    Although the writers have had very favorable experience with keyboards and visual displays, considerable ef­fort has been expended in rendering AMTRAN compatible with typewriter and teletype input and output, since the latter are cheaper than full-scale AMTRAN terminals.
    An extended version written in Algol 60 is currently under development in collaboration with the Burroughs Corporation. This time-sharing AMTRAN incremental-compiler will act like a single program in the multi-processing B5000 or the faster (800-nanosecond cycle time) B6000 computers.
    Finally, the Brown Engineering Co. is presently developing an AMTRAN incremental compiler for the IBM 1130 computer. Extract: Hardware Configuration
    Hardware Configuration
    As previously mentioned, a typical AMTRAN terminal consists of a large keyboard, one or two cathode ray scopes, a Polaroid camera for the scopes, and a special Selectric typewriter. A stylus or "electric pencil" will soon be avail­able to enter graphical information to the computer.
    The keyboard has two classes of buttons: labeled buttons which are permanently programmed and unlabeled buttons which are "programmable" by the operator. Suffi­cient space is provided around the unlabeled pushbuttons so that the user may label them as he wishes on paper overlays provided- for this purpose. Since the num­ber of pushbuttons is necessarily limited, they are used primarily for the more common functions and operators, such as the +, sin, and repeat operators, while mnemonic codes are used to call less commonly used operations such as the error function, or the Newton-Raphson method for solving differential equations.
    Since the typewriter is used to call a great majority of operations, the question arises: Why use the keyboard at all? Briefly, when a typewriter is used to enter mathe­matical equations, entry becomes quite slow and prone to error. A conflict seems to arise in the user between the consideration of the problem and the mechanics of typing. On the other hand, the keyboard is relatively inexpensive, permits considerably faster entry than the typewriter, and provides important software advantages because it enters binary codes directly into the computer, bypassing the label-decoding process. Also, a special keyboard is quite desirable for certain special operations, such as those deal­ing with graphical displays. Most of the people who have used AMTRAN so far have preferred the keyboard-type­writer combination to the typewriter alone. Nevertheless a typewriter can be used in lieu of the keyboard at some reduction in performance.
    Because of the large number of buttons and instruc­tions associated with the keyboard, a full set of instruc­tions has been stored on the disc file and the user may display them any time. A general instructions button has been provided on the keyboard to elicit a display of general instructions on the cathode ray scope and get the user'started. Thereafter, the user can get specific in­structions regarding the use of any particular button by pressing the turn page button, followed by the button in question. Thus, the system can explain itself in a self-teaching fashion to the novice user.
    The typewriter, used to provide a permanent record of the program, has an 88-character set, which includes most of the Greek alphabet and a large complement of mathe­matical symbols (Fig. 2). The complete AMTRAN type­writer unit currently under development will have the ability to index the roller upward or downward inde­pendent of the carriage return so that mathematical equa­tions may be typed out in the format in which they appear in a mathematics textbook. The typewriter is also used to type out data and results (augmented by the line printer) and, in addition, can serve as a plotter. The reverse in­dexing feature makes it possible for the typewriter to plot and label a curve in 30-40 seconds.
    The stations used by the authors incorporate two scopes so that one scope can present alphanumeric information while the other retains "blackboard" graphical displays. The alphanumeric scope is used to print out instructions and error messages, and while it does not provide hard copy as does the typewriter, its writing speed is much greater. Therefore, it may be used to compose segments of the user's program before entry into the computer. Once the input has been checked, it is released to the computer, at which point a type-out occurs. This rapid writing rate has afforded unexpected benefits in the rapid printing or alphanumeric information in comparison to the slow type­writer. The 5-inch Tektronix storage scopes used for this purpose are inexpensive, afford high resolution, and re­quire no internal buffering; consequently, they can be operated over ordinary voice-grade telephone circuits. (An improved 11-inch scope will be available early next year.) The attached Polaroid camera provides excellent high-contrast photos of the data displayed on the scope face. It would also be possible to employ an on-line plotter which would be shared by several stations. The plotter would provide accurate hard copy plots of any desired data AMTRAN software can be implemented on almost scientific computer of any reasonable size and speed, old or new.
          in Datamation 12(10) Oct 1966 view details
  • Blackwell, F. W., "An On-Line Symbol Manipulation System" view details
          in Proceedings of the 22nd national ACM conference 1967, Washington, D.C. view details
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