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The period 1983 - 1986:
Dual-state use with NOS/VE

In mid 1985, it was decided to start exploring the new virtual operating system NOS/VE (Network Operating System/Virtual Environment).
NOS/VE was an operating system based on virtual memory techniques. However, apart from the memory, each file was accessed in a "virtual" manner. The basis for NOS/VE was a joint effort by NCR and CDC. NCR withdraw halfway as their focus shifted to another market. NOS/VE was developed in Pascal 1 - which later became CYBIL (CYBER Implementation Language) - a systems programming derivative of Pascal.

In August 1985, NOS/VE was installed on the CYBER 170-835. Finally, we used the other, "native", part of the CYBER hardware instruction set. The Laboratory was one of the first computer centers using the combination NOS/BE - NOS/VE (dual-state) in an operational system. During installation, we again stumbled into the well-known (earlier decribed) 63-character set problem. At the same time, NOS/VE generated 'standard' job names, who started with a 'Z'. Those job names conflicted with our security enhancements to NOS/BE. The NOS/BE-side of the dual-state interface software required a large number of adaptions and changes. As NOS/VE was delivered as binary executable code, most errors could not be patched and corrected by ourselves. The amount of problem status reports (PSR's) increased fast.

Dual-state plotting

Although it was a trial and error period, while our initial NOS/VE users required plot services on the Calcomp 1051 plotter. The dual-state software allowed for the possibility to start a batchjob under NOS/BE, a so-called Interstatejob (that ran through the multi-user feature of NOS/BE, those jobs were running at a very high priority even delaying NOS/BE interactive users). As the plot library resulted in very low level control code for the plotter using a complex lower layer in Assembler and 60-bit word packing, it looks hardly do-able to convert the plot library towards NOS/VE. The best ideas are born at moments of unconcious thinking. During a weekend, a simple but effective design was made: "Do not convert the basic plot library to NOS/VE at all, but just record the parameters of the calls to the basic plot library routines!" This required only a couple of hundred lines of Fortran code. For each Fortran routine of the basic plot library, we wrote a subroutine that wrote a routine number followed by an ASCII representation of all parameters to an ASCII file. The plot close (PLTCLOSE) call added a couple of NOS/BE commands to the file and fired up the file as a batch job under NOS/BE. Under NOS/BE we wrote a simple case driven routine that read the ASCII file and called the real plot routines from the 'old' Calcomp library. This solution was so simple, that the programs were written and tested in less than one day! Later some more about this "interpreter".

The system software

Under NOS/BE, the following system software was available:

Under NOS/VE the following software was available for the users in August 1985:

Unplanned visits by the Fire fighting department

Fire fighting

department of Den Haag During this period, the Laboratory built a strong relationship with the local fire fighting department. At various occasions, technicians had to sudder wires in order to make minor corrections to CPU boards. The smoke set off the fire alarm, which caused - after a couple of minutes delay - a large group of fire fighters fully equiped with oxygin masks, axes and so on entering the computer room.

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