Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 6th Mar 2017 20:06 UTC, submitted by uridium
OSNews, Generic OSes

Around May 2015, Andrea “Mancausoft” Milazzo got in touch with Jakub Filipowicz, a Polish guy involved in MERA-400 computer historical researches; Jakub was writing an emulator of this machine, but the operating system was missing and almost unavailable (details on the mera400.pl website [Polish]).

Jakub found 5 magnetic tapes at the Warsaw Museum of Technology, containing hopefully copies of the CROOK operating system. The Museum was not able to read them. After some months, he managed to get the tapes, to try a data recovery, extracting the operating system.

Fascinating story with tons of details, definitely a must-read. Interestingly enough - or sadly enough - I can't seem to find a whole lot of information on the MERA 400 in English, and since I don't speak or read Polish, I can't really give much more information than you can find in the source article. There is a Wikipedia page on the MERA 400's progenitor, the K-202.

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Retroleum
by uridium on Mon 6th Mar 2017 23:48 UTC
uridium
Member since:
2009-08-20

Hi Thom, thanks for posting it. These guys are doing a really important thing. A great deal of the computer history and heritage is simply not being preserved. Emulators keep it alive. In the west the DEC, IBM, CDC etc etc gear ..everyone knows, but there was an entirely different world in the easter bloc with all the Russian, Hungarian, Belorussian, ex-Yugoslavian, Polish, Bulgarian , German, and ..and..and systems. Thousands!

So much is being lost. So.. stuff like this warms my heart greatly ;) Hopefully someone soon can fire up CROOKS and actually play with a living system after all this time. Brilliant! <3

Reply Score: 6

RE: Retroleum
by Doc Pain on Fri 10th Mar 2017 00:47 UTC in reply to "Retroleum"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

A great deal of the computer history and heritage is simply not being preserved. Emulators keep it alive. In the west the DEC, IBM, CDC etc etc gear ..everyone knows, but there was an entirely different world in the easter bloc with all the Russian, Hungarian, Belorussian, ex-Yugoslavian, Polish, Bulgarian , German, and ..and..and systems. Thousands!


That's true. Even though many systems were more or less clones of famous IBM and DEC platforms, being able to run available commercial software and gaining attention on the international market, there were very insteresting "parallel developments" in former eastern block countries.

For example, what about the robotron RVS K1840, a DEC VAX 11/780 "lookalike" manufactured with "local parts" only? Or the other DEC PDP clones of the K1600 system line? Or the IBM equivalents, EC1040, EC1055, EC1056 or EC1057? Or more exotic systems of the "pre-/360 era" like the robotron 300 or the "totally strange" things like the R4000 family? And I'm not even starting to talk about the "easy" 8-bit era Z80 clones...

Even worse: What about the interesting software they ran? I'm not just talking about the operating systems, but also about the application software that has been created from scratch to solve problems in science, industry, banking, manufacturing, or power plants? What if I said things like MOOS, OMOS, SVP (MOSVP), MUTOS, OS/ES SVS or SVM, PLUS, CAOS, or DBS/R? Nobody outside a small group of people (former users, system programmers, operators and engineers) will remember what those are, and in few decades, they all will be dead. Their individual knowledge and experience will be lost. Sure, there is some "paperwork" and few media (magnetic tapes, disk packs, maybe some paper tapes), but can anyone still read them, understand them, and bring those phantastillions of manmonths worth of work back to life again, even if it's just for preservation of an interesting and important aspect of history?

Only a tiny fraction of that kind of knowledge made its way to the Internet. It's so incomplete it hardly makes a difference to nonexistence.

(I'm a "retro-computist" myself, so this is exactly the kind of problem that makes me sad.)

Reply Score: 2

Andrzej
Member since:
2017-03-07

I think I could help you with translating bits and pieces from polish source. Just let me know what you are interested in (there's a lot of info on mera400 website!).
As for the MERA-400 itself, I was quite surprised to find name of one my university professors as an original CROOK project initiator, namely late Mr. Włodzimierz J. Martin. He taught me on unix systems administration. Great man, by the way, humble, polite and always willing to share some of the tons of his accumulated knowledge. He used to bring his dog, a big dark doberman, to lectures. The beast sat there calmly and watched the audience. Good old days...

Reply Score: 1

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

I think I could help you with translating bits and pieces from polish source. Just let me know what you are interested in (there's a lot of info on mera400 website!).

Well, considering I never even heard of it (and probably a lot of people this side of the world haven't either), ideally we'd have the whole thing translated ;) . That aside, I for one would appreciate a general overview of how the machine worked (operating system, technical specifications, etc) to start.

Reply Score: 2