I recently discovered SDF’s PiDP-8. You can access it over SSH and watch the blinkenlights over its twitch stream. It runs TSS/8, a time-sharing operating system written in 1967 by Adrian van de Goor while a grad student here at CMU. I’ve been having fun tinkering with it, and I just wrote my first BASIC program1 since high school. It plots the graph of some user-specified univariate function. I don’t claim that it’s elegant or well-engineered, but it works!

``````10  DEF FNC(X) = 19 * COS(X/2)
20  FOR Y = 20 TO -20 STEP -1
30     FOR X = -25 TO 24
40     LET V = FNC(X)
50     GOSUB 90
60  NEXT X
70  PRINT ""
80  NEXT Y
85  STOP
90  REM SUBROUTINE PRINTS AXES AND PLOT
100 IF X = 0 THEN 150
110 IF Y = 0 THEN 150
120 REM X != 0 AND Y != 0 SO IN QUADRANT
130 GOSUB 290
140 RETURN
150 GOSUB 170
160 RETURN
170 REM SUBROUTINE PRINTS AXES (X = 0 OR Y = 0)
180 IF X + Y = 0 THEN 230
190 IF X = 0 THEN 250
200 IF Y = 0 THEN 270
210 PRINT "AXES INVARIANT VIOLATED"
220 STOP
230 PRINT "+";
240 GOTO 280
250 PRINT "I";
260 GOTO 280
270 PRINT "-";
280 RETURN
290 REM SUBROUTINE PRINTS FUNCTION GRAPH (X != 0 AND Y != 0)
300 IF 0 <= Y THEN 350
310 REM Y < 0
320 IF V <= Y THEN 410
330 REM Y < 0 AND Y < V SO OUTSIDE OF PLOT AREA
340 GOTO 390
350 REM 0 <= Y
360 IF Y <= V THEN 410
370 REM 0 <= Y  AND V < Y SO OUTSIDE OF PLOT AREA
380 GOTO 390
390 PRINT " ";
400 RETURN
410 PRINT "*";
420 RETURN
430 REM COPYRIGHT 2021 RYAN KAVANAGH RAK AT RAK.AC
440 END
``````

It produces the following output:

``````                         I
I
*           **           I           **
*           **           I           **
**          **          *I*          **          *
**          **          *I*          **          *
**         ***          *I*          ***         *
**         ****         *I*         ****         *
**         ****         *I*         ****         *
**         ****         *I*         ****         *
**         ****        **I**        ****         *
***        ****        **I**        ****        **
***        ****        **I**        ****        **
***        ****        **I**        ****        **
***       *****        **I**        *****       **
***       ******       **I**       ******       **
***       ******       **I**       ******       **
***       ******       **I**       ******       **
***       ******       **I**       ******       **
***       ******      ***I***      ******       **
-------------------------+------------------------
******      ******   I   ******      ******
******      ******   I   ******      ******
*****       ******   I   ******       *****
*****       ******   I   ******       *****
*****        *****   I   *****        *****
*****        *****   I   *****        *****
*****        *****   I   *****        *****
*****        ****    I    ****        *****
*****        ****    I    ****        *****
****        ****    I    ****        ****
****        ****    I    ****        ****
***         ****    I    ****         ***
***          ***    I    ***          ***
***          ***    I    ***          ***
***          ***    I    ***          ***
**          **     I     **          **
**          **     I     **          **
*            *     I     *            *
I
I
``````

Next up, I am going to try my hand at writing some FORTRAN or some FOCAL69. If you like tinkering with old systems, then you should give the TSS/8 a try.

1. It’s written in the BASIC-8 dialect. ↩︎