hp-series300.netHP 9000 series 300 vintage computers


From its inception, the 300 series offered a choice of operating systems including BASIC/WS, Workstations Pascal and HP-UX. Basic and Pascal are programming languages combined with elementary command-line capabilities that serve as the operating system, while HP-UX is an implementation of the Unix operating system supporting several high-level programming languages, text editors and proprietary applications. Several third-party Unix-type operating systems were also available. All computers in the series had a multi-boot capability, allowing the user to select which of a set of installed operating systems to load at boot time. The 300 series technical workstations were designed to be easily programmed by their users. In fact, only a rather small number of pre-written software applications were available for the BASIC/WS and Pascal Workstation platforms. On the other hand, a vast array of software was developed by both HP and third parties to run on the HP-UX platform. BASIC, Pascal and HP-UX were refined and developed during the life of the HP300 series, with HP-UX in particular acquiring new features made possible by increases in processor power and in the size and speed of RAM and mass storage. HP BASIC/WS 6.4 was the last version of the stand-alone RMB system, Pascal Workstation changed the least (advancing from version 3.1 to version 3.25), while HP-UX reached version 9.1 on the 300 series. Further information about series-300 operating systems and applications software can be obtained from the HP Computer Museum and the Bitsavers Archive, both of which have software available to download. The operating systems described on this page are also available to download here.


Operating Systems


HP BASIC appeared first on HP 9830A launched in 1972 and was the main programming language for the 98X5 series (1977) and the series 80 (1980). The version of BASIC used with the 300 series first appeared with the launch of the 200 series in 1981 as BASIC 1.0. Over time, it was successively updated, mainly to accommodate new hardware capabilities and to enhance cross-platform compatibility. With the emergence of BASIC/UX, running as an application under the HP-UX, the stand-alone version became known as BASIC/WS. Other contemporary flavours of BASIC for HP hardware were BASIC/DOS (for HP's Basic Language Measurement Coprocessors) and BASIC/IN (for MC68000-based controllers embedded in HP instruments). HP BASIC/WS Version 6.3, released in 1994, was the last one supported by HP. Following the sale of series 200/300/400 BASIC software to Test and Measurement Systems, Inc. (TAMS) in 1998, one further revision (6.4) was released incorporating changes to allow correct handling of dates from year 2000 onward.

Version History of BASIC/WS on Series 200/300

Version Year Comment
1.0 1981 ROM-based only, launched with the 200 series.
2.0 1982 ROM or RAM based. Added support for series 9000 model 236 and Datacomm interface, and new looping statements (WHILE, REPEAT, SELECT, CASE).
2.1 1982 ROM or RAM based.
3.0 1984 ROM or RAM based. 16 new statements, 2 statements deleted (STORE BIN, RE-STORE BIN). PHYREC changed from a statement to a CSUB. Mouse support added and revised graphics statements.
4.0 1985 ROM or RAM based, launch version for series 300 computers supporting new hardware including display interfaces, MC68010and MC68020 CPUs, battery-backed real-time clock, IFT keyboard, built-in serial interface and HP-HIL ID Module.
5.0 1987 ROM or RAM based. Introduced the HFS filing system, support for MC68030 CPU, new keywords to simplify CRT and keyboard configuration, COMPLEX data type, hyperbolic functions and enhanced matrix operations.
5.1 1987 ROM or RAM based. Added support for high-resolution frame buffers (HP98548A/49A/50A). Also introduced linked files. Minor updates: 5.11, 5.12, 5.13.
5.2 1988 Special testing version for service engineers (part number HP 98613D).
6.0 1990 Introduced cross-platform BASIC/UX and BASIC/DOS compatibility, support for model 345, 375 and V/360 SPUs and wildcards for file-name matching.
6.1 1991 Support for LAN-based SRM/UX networks.
6.2 1991 Added support for 362, 380 and 382 SPUs, parallel printer port and SCSI disc drives. Globalisation and localisation introduced, including support for two-byte character sets. Minor update: 6.21.
6.3 1994 Last HP-supported revision of BASIC/WS. Minor updates: 6.31-6.33.
6.4 1998 TAMS revision with Y2K fixes and improved SCSI binary.

The early versions of HP BASIC on the 98X0, 98X5- and 80-series computers were provided in ROM with plug-in modules available to extend the language features. The 200 series allowed the alternative of either a ROM-based or a RAM-based BASIC operating system, the latter loaded from disc. The version of BASIC/WS available at the launch of series 300 (version 4.0) was also offered in both ROM- and RAM-based versions but the ROM-based option was dropped after revision 5.1.

BASIC/WS was written mainly is a language called MODCAL, an extended version of the Pascal language used within HP, with smaller parts coded in MC68000 assembly language. To limit the size of the system kernel, some non-core or optional hardware-specific features of the language were provided in separate binary (BIN) files that, if needed, could be brought into memory with the LOADBIN command and deleted en mass with the SCRATCH BIN command. Depending upon the size of the user's program and data, HP BASIC/WS could be run perfectly well in just 1 Mb of memory.

As an interpreted language, BASIC/WS was not noted for speed. A compiler was available that allowed individual subprograms to be compiled, providing a significant increase in the speed of integer operations but little improvement in floating-point calculations. Compiled subroutines were designated as CSUBs. The language was intuitive and easy to use, yet rich with features and remarkably powerful. Legacy RMB code is still in use today. Strengths included simple yet powerful means of interfacing with external devices, self-contained sub-program contexts, structured programming tools, a native complex data type and in-built matrix manipulations. Simple x-y graphs could also be generated easily and more complex graphical operations could be programmed. HP BASIC programs often made extensive use of the softkeys to provide menus but, although a mouse could be used, it had limited functionality. Several weaknesses of the programming language arose from the integer data type being limited to a 2-byte format. For example, the number of program lines and the number of elements in any dimension of an array were restricted to 32,767. As an operating system, BASIC/WS provided a good program editor and an adequate filing system; however, no text editor was provided and HP's proprietary disc formats made the exchange of data with other computer systems problematic. The limited number of program lines could be circumvented by compiling subprograms, as the compiled form was reduced to a single line in the overall listing. The popular Kermit file transfer protocol could also be used to exchange data with other computer systems over the in-built serial interface.

A significant enhancement of BASIC/WS was brought about by the addition of the BASIC Plus software, released in 1992 and compatible with BASIC/WS 6.2. This provided programming tools to create a window-style user interface with mouse-activated user menus and various graphical widgets to display data. An updated version of BASIC Plus, designated 6.33 and released in the late 1990s, added (at last) a text editor, similar to the Windows Notepad, and more extensive windows capabilities.

As series 300 machines headed for obsolescence, HP moved to provide continuity for RMB applications. HP ported RMB to PCs (HP Basic for Windows) and, for a time, supported RMB on series 700 workstations under HP-UX. Today, RMB is sold and supported on Windows PCs by Trans Era.

Pascal Workstation

The Pascal Workstation (PAWS) combines the HP Standard Pascal programming language with a bespoke operating system that provides the filing system, text editor, compiler, assembler, linker, debugger and execution environment. HP Standard Pascal was a company standard used on several different HP computer systems. It was a superset of both UCSD Pascal and ANSI Pascal. PAWS in particular was developed for the 200 series and, at the launch of the 300 series, was at version 3.1. The PAWS was modular with a small kernel; individual components of the system (such as the editor, file manager, compiler etc) could be loaded into memory only when required. As a result, PAWS could operate with very meagre resources requiring only a flexible-disc drive and the minimum memory configuration. Operating in this way required a lot of disc changes but, on a better endowed computer, the whole system could be installed on a hard drive and loaded into memory at once. Revisions appear to have been restricted mainly to the support of new hardware. Version 3.24 is the minimum for models with MC68040 CPUs. The version history of PAWS is tabulated below.

Version History of Pascal Workstation on Series 200/300

Version Year Comment
1.0 1981 200 series models 226 and 236 only. Uses UCSD-compatible file system
2.0 1982 LIF file system now primary, introduced support for SRM networks and continued support for the UCSD-compatible file system of PAWS 1.0. Supported model 216 and many more peripherals including some CS/80 disc drives
2.1 1983 Added support for model 220 computer
3.0, 3.01 1984 Major revision of systems component to include support for MC68010 processor and memory -management hardware. Adds support for model 217 and 237 computers, high-resolution graphics and a wider selection of CS/80 disc drives. 3.01 released with bug fixes
3.1, 3.12 1985 Launch version for series 300 computers, including support for the MC68020 CPU, MC68881 FPU and other 300-series hardware. 3.12 adds support for the HP 98203C keyboard
3.2 1987 Introduced support for the HFS filing system (LIF, SRM and UCSD file systems maintained) and support for full 32-bit DIO-II data bus
3.21 1987 Supported for HP 98548/49/50 GPUs and model 319C+ workstation
3.22 1989 Adds support for MC68030 CPU and MC68882 FPU and support for models 332, 340, 360 and 370. Allowable system date range changed to 1970-2027
3.23 1990 Adds support for model 345 and 375, including built-in SCSI and parallel interfaces, internal SCSI hard-drive and several external HP SCSI drives
3.24 1990 Adds support for MC68040 FPU on model 380 or upgraded model 375. Also supports SRM/UX networks
3.25 1991 Added support for models 362 and 382 (with internal SCSI disc drives and VGA display) and model 385 (MC68040 FPU @ 33 MHz). Last version of PAWS

Like BASIC/WS, the PAWS system was developed using HP's MODCAL (Modular Pascal) language, an extension of HP Standard Pascal designed for systems programming. A complete HP Pascal Workstation Developers Kit survives and includes the MODCAL version of the series-300 Pascal compiler together with Pascal/MODCAL source code for various libraries and interface drivers used in PAWS version 3.25. Another surviving HP document details the MODCAL extensions to HP Standard Pascal.

As a compiled language, Pascal offered speed advantages compared with Basic. It was also a well-developed and structured programming language and, although largely forgotten today, quite powerful and flexible. For example, PAWS provided full access to the series 300 hardware and could be compiled and linked with sections of assembler code. PAWS also provided users with the tools to develop compiled subroutines (CSUBs) for BASIC/WS.


The most powerful operating system was HP-UX, HP’s proprietary version of Unix derived from AT&T's UNIX System V with elements from the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) Unix. Under HP-UX, a range of applications including, text editors and high-level programming languages, could be run. Like other Unix systems, the operating system comprised a kernel, loaded into memory at boot time, and numerous additional features which were loaded as needed. Memory management, with paging and disc-based swap space, allowed large applications to be run handling data sets possibly many times the RAM capacity. The kernel and packages were written in C and a minimal (Kerninghan & Richie) C compiler was included in the standard distribution to allow re-compilation of the kernel as needed to support different configurations or options. The place of HP-UX in the family tree of Unix-like operating systems is shown nicely in a Unix History. The table below details the development of HP-UX on HP 9000 series machines up to the last version (9.1) supporting series 300 machines. Support for HP-UX 9.x ended in December 1998; later versions (10.x and 11.x) were supported on a variety of HP server and workstation platforms, continuing to the present day.

Version History of HP-UX on HP 9000 Series 200, 300, 400, 500 and early 700 Computers

Version Year CPUs Comment
1.0 1983 FOCUS First release for Series 500
2.0 1983 MC68000 First release for Series 200.
5.x 1986 MC68010
Release for Series 200, 300 and 500 computers. Last version to run on MC68010. Models 318, 319C, 330 and 350 supported from 5.2. Introduced the HFS filing system, Starbase graphics, Windows 9000 and the Personal Applications Manager (PAM) shell. Revised up to version 5.5.
6.x 1989 MC68020
Release for Series 300 computers. MC68030 machines supported from 6.2. Introduced context-dependent files, HP-UX clusters (including discless clients), the X-windows system and support for NFS. Revised up to version 6.5.
7.x 1989 MC68020+
HP-UX for Series 300 and 400 (also supported series 600 and 700). Introduced the Systems Administration Manager (SAM) and OSF/Motif.
8.x 1991 MC68020+
Introduced shared libraries and HP-VUE 2.0.
9.x 1992 MC68020+
Updated to HP VUE 3.0; HP-UX 9.1 (1995) patched for year 2000 compliance and last version supporting series 300/400.

Up to HP-UX 5, the software was released on a set of 3.5" floppy discs but thereafter 1/4" cartridge tapes (also available for HP-UX 5) and finally CD-ROMs or DAT media were used.

Version 5 of HP-UX had the basic command-line user interface and could run as a stand-alone system in 2 Mbytes of RAM; with additional RAM, a windows interface called Windows 9000 could be used. Later versions supported the X-windows system and OSF/Motif. HP-VUE, HP’s proprietary graphical user interface, originally developed by Apollo Computers for their Domain OS, was ported to HP-UX as version 2.0 in 1991. The HP-UX operating system supported Email, via the Sendmail package, although the version furnished up to HP-UX 9.1 had limited functionality and is not compatible with modern security protocols. Other network features included FTP file transfers, remote login and the ability to mount network file servers using the NFS protocol. The World Wide Web was invented in 1989 but was not yet mainstream even when HP-UX 9.0 was released in 1991. However, web browser and server applications were compiled to run on HP-UX 9.x in the mid-1990s; unfortunately, these are not compatible with modern HTML standards.

HP-UX workstations could exploit SRM networks but, by the end of the series, the preferred architecture for clusters was LAN based. One machine could be setup as a cluster server with several client computers booting over the LAN from mass storage attached to the server. Discless clients were supported in this way and, as in SRM systems, peripherals such as printers and plotters attached to the server could be utilised by clients. Unlike an SRM server, the cluster server could also function as usable workstation. Two LAN cards were recommended in this case, one dedicated to cluster traffic and the other serving as a gateway to the internet.

HP-VUE screenshot
HP-VUE running under HP-UX 9.1 on a model 370 workstation.
Photo from Wikipedia

HP-UX 9.X generally required 8 Mb to load and run in console mode and at least 16 Mb to support HP-VUE or X-windows sessions.

Third-Party BSD Operating Systems

Two third-part Unix-like operating systems, derived from the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD), were ported to the HP300 platform. These are NetBSD and OpenBSD; the third common BSD operating system, FreeBSD, was never officially ported to HP300. Although both NetBSD and OpenBSD are currently maintained and regularly updated, OpenBSD stopped revising its HP300 port at version 5.5 (released in 2014), while NetBSD continues to compile new releases for HP300 systems. In principle, the capabilities of these BSD operating systems are rather similar to HP-UX but, being open source, there is a large number of pre-compiled software packages available. Unfortunately, both systems run much slower than HP-UX. OpenBSD is notable for a higher level of system security.

OpenBSD can be installed on any MC68030- or MC68040-based series 300 workstation with a FPU and at least 12 Mbytes of RAM (16 Mbytes or more is recommended). NetBSD can, in principle, be installed on any MC68020 or higher machine with a FPU and at least 4 MBytes of RAM. More practically, at least a MC68030/MC68882 combination with 16 Mbytes of RAM is needed for X Windows to run without being swap bound. Both OpenBSD and NetBSD are compatible with most series-300 graphics, mass-storage and other hardware.


Filing Systems

LIF Filing System

HP300 computers inherited from earlier HP desktops a simple device-independent linear filing system called the Logical Interchange Format (LIF). A physical storage medium can contain one or more LIF volumes, each likened to the drawers of a filing cabinet, within which files can be stored. In a LIF volume, the files are always contiguous and, when one is deleted, a gap is left in the filing system which can be used only when a new file can fit there entirely. Typically, a LIF-formatted floppy disc would contain just one volume but some hard drives had a hardware setting to divide the disc space into a number of fixed-size volumes. In a LIF filing system, file names are restricted to 10 alphanumeric characters (plus the underscore character) without file name extensions. Files carry a timestamp and an additional 16-bit field that encodes the file type; a few of the file types used on HP300 computers are tabulated below. A more-detailed technical description of the LIF filing system can be found on the HP9845 website.

Series 300 LIF File Types and Codes

Type (hexadecimal) Decimal code* File Type Operating System
00 01 1 ASCII BASIC/WS, Pascal, HP-UX
E9 42 -5822 SYSTM BASIC/WS, Pascal, HP-UX
E9 4B -5813 HP-UX BASIC/WS, Pascal, HP-UX
E9 50 -5808 PROG BASIC/WS
E9 61 -5791 BDAT BASIC/WS
E9 71 -5775 BIN BASIC/WS
EA 0A -5622 AUTOSTART Pascal
EA 32 -5582 CODE Pascal
EA 3E -5570 TEXT Pascal

* Decimal value of the 16-bit 2's complement of the file type as listed by e.g. the BASIC CAT command.

Files of type SYSTM are bootable and files of type ASCII and HP-UX are readable on all HP operating systems. Purged files remain on the disc until overwritten and, although not listed, are marked in the LIF directory as file type 0. This offers the possibility of un-purging a file by manipulating the LIF directory entries with an appropriate software tool. HP's Pascal operating system used file names in the format FILE_NAME.EXTN, where 'EXTN' is a field of zero to four characters indicating the file type. In order to fit this naming convention into LIF's 10-character file-name field, PAWS performed a compression on write operations, replacing '.EXTN' by a single character, leaving 9 characters for the main part of the file name. This compression was reversed automatically by the operating system so that the user always saw the full form of the file name.

Unfortunately, LIF formatted floppy disks could not be read easily by IBM-compatible PCs and so transferring data to PCs via floppies was not convenient. A useful alternative for an HP300 workstation running BASIC/WS was the Kermit file transfer protocol which allowed files to be transferred between many different types of computer system over a simple serial link. HP Kermit was a full implementation of the protocol for BASIC/WS 5.x and 6.x.

DOS Filing System

HP released software (product 98616D) to allow BASIC/WS to read and write DOS-formatted 1.4 Mbyte 3.5" floppy disks in some HP flexible-disc drives. HP-UX also had the capacity to read and write 3.5" discs in that format on compatible drives.

Hierarchical Filing System (HFS) and Structured Directory Format (SDF) filing system

The LIF system does not support sub-directories and, by keeping every file contiguous, makes inefficient use of the storage medium. To address these issues, HP introduced the Hierarchical Filing System (HFS) and supported it on all operating systems. The HFS is ideally suited to hard discs and provides the tree-like structure used on modern computers. An HFS disc actually has a small 8 kbyte LIF volume, or header, which contains information about the disc and provides space for small segments of boot code (essential, as the boot ROM cannot read HFS files). The LIF header is not normally accessible to users, although every operating system provides at least some tools for storing boot code in that region. The rest of the drive is formatted in a single partition for user directories and files plus, on HP-UX, a swap partition. The HFS filing system can be setup with either short 14-character filenames or, on HP-UX, with long 256-character names. On BASIC/WX and Workstation Pascal, special tools are used to initialise HFS discs outside of the normal structure of the language. The HP-UX mediainit and newfs commands can be used to initialise a disc and create a new HFS. An HP-UX HFS filing system can be shared with BASIC/WS or Workstation Pascal only if it is setup with short filenames; corruption would occur if either BASIC or Pascal attempted to write to an HFS setup with long file names.

With subsequent generations of HP workstations, by which time all disc-based file systems were hierarchical, HFS came to be known as the 'High-Performance File System'.

A Shared Resources Manager (SRM) server implements a file system called Structured Directory Format (SDF) which is rather similar to HFS. The SDF was designed to allow file sharing by different generations of HP computers (such as series 200, 300, and 500 machines) running different operating systems. It was also the filing system implmented on series 500 hard drives. On the SRM/SDF system, file names are restricted to 16 characters in length. The SRM server ran its own operating system and was entirely dedicated to SRM network service. Later, SRM/UX was introduced which allowed a server running HP-UX to provide SRM services to BASIC/WS and PAWS clients over the LAN. This both increased transfer rates and dispensed with the need for dedicated SRM hardware.

Network Filing System (NFS)

HP300 computers running HP-UX and fitted with a LAN interface could function as both servers and clients on a Network Filing System (NFS). The NFS protocol works between computers from different vendors and HP adopted the system as a replacement for the proprietary Remote File Access (RFA) and SRM systems. Unlike a simple HP-UX cluster, wherein all members share a single filing system, NFS allows a more diverse architecture with multiple file servers on different platforms.

BSD Filing System

NetBSD and OpenBSD use the Berkeley 'fast file system' (FFS) of which HP's HFS is really a derivative. With HP300 systems, an FFS-formatted drive can have up to 8 partitions, identified by letter, including the swap and boot areas. In a typically set-up, four are used: 'a' for the core operating system; 'b' for swap space, 'c' for boot and 'd' for user files. The c partition actually covers the entire disc (overlapping the others) but contains only the bootstrap program located at the very start of the disc. The 'd' partition is not essential; instead a large 'a' partition can be created as the root filing system and used for both the operating system and all user files.


Boot Process

The boot sequence on all series 300 computers is controlled by code stored on the boot ROM. The boot ROM first carries out a sequence of hardware tests (processor, RAM, interfaces and Boot ROM checksum evaluation) and then searches local drives and the LAN for an operating system to load. Progress through the boot is indicated on the system console and also via a set of 8 LEDs located on the front of the processor board in a location visible through the front grill. A successful boot concludes with no LEDs illuminated.

The Boot ROM can only read LIF volumes. On a LIF-formatted drive, the Boot ROM looks in the directory for one or more files of type SYSTM, which contain the kernel of an operating system; it is then able to load one of these into memory and start it running. With an HFS-formatted drive, the small (8 Kbyte) LIF header is too small to contain an operating system but, if bootable, will contain at least one small bootstrap program called a secondary loader. The Boot ROM is able to read a secondary loader into memory and execute it. The secondary loader then looks in the root directory of the HFS partition for the actual operating-system kernel, which it then loads into memory and started. The process of booting from a CD-ROM is similar, again involving a LIF-type header containing a secondary loader. For LAN booting, the now-obsolete Remote Maintenance Protocol (RMP) is used to request boot code. If a properly configured cluster server running the rbootp daemon is available on the local subnet, it will provide the secondary loader which, in turn, loads the operating-system kernel from the cluster server's file system.

Both attended and unattended booting is possible. In unattended mode, a default operating system is loaded automatically. On systems without a configuration EEPROM, this is simply the first system found in a sequential search. The top items in the search sequence, in order of deceasing priority, are SCSI discs with device ID above 4, HP-IB discs with bus address 0, volumes 0 to 7, SRM and LAN servers. Lower priorities include all remaining SCSI and HP-IB devices. Pressing the space bar during the self test causes the computer to enter attended mode. It then displays a list of all loadable operating systems it can find; the operator can select the desired one by entering the corresponding two-character code. On systems with a configuration EEPROM and boot ROM revision D or later, typing C followed by Return before a system is loaded enters the configuration mode, wherein interface and other hardware parameters can be set as well as the default operating system for unattended booting. Typing T followed by Return before a system is loaded allows extended hardware tests to be run. On earlier machines without a configuration EEPROM (corresponding to boot ROM revisions A to C1), the extended tests menu can be accessed by typing Ctrl-C followed by Return before a system loads. These machines used DIP switches or jumpers on the processor board for interface configuration instead of settings saved in a configuration EEPROM.

HP375 boot screen
Boot screen on a model 375 workstation showing available boot systems on the right: 1H is an HP-UX system located an HP C3010 SCSI disc (ID 6); 1Z and 1P are BASIC/WS and PAWS systems on an HP9133 HP-IB disc; 2H is another HP-UX system available to boot over the network from a cluster server (host name Sonia); 2Z is NetBSD's installation bootstrap program; 3Z is NetBSD's universal boot program; 4Z is OpenBSD's CD installation bootstrap code; systems #D, #B, #S and #X (# = 1,2) allow booting in debug, backup or test modes.

A detailed description of the boot process with Boot ROM revision C1 can be found in the document "Model 340 Workstation's SPU Service Manual" (HP part number 98571-90030). This includes details of failure codes and useful troubleshooting instructions, much of it relevant to other series 300 machines.

Once the operating system is loaded, additional start-up tasks are usually executed. In BASIC/WS and PAWS, these are defined by an auto-start program which, if present, is automatically loaded and run. For HP-UX, a sequence of start-up scripts execute to carry out tasks such as starting system services and initializing environment variables. Each operating system provides a means of installing boot code on an HFS disc (e.g. BASIC/WS has STORE SYSTEM, PAWS has OSINSTALL and HP-UX has mkboot). The PAWS OSINSTALL utility can be used to add, re-order or remove boot code from the LIF header of an HFS drive. The ability to re-order the boot entries is useful to select the default system for unattended boot on systems without a configuration EEPROM.

The BSD operating systems do not use LIF or HFS disc formats but they are able to take control from the boot ROM by placing the bootstrap program in a LIF 'wrapper' starting in the disklabel area at the beginning of the disc. This wrapper makes the boot code appear to be contained within a LIF volume. In fact, the UBOOT bootstrap code used by these operating systems overflows the disklabel area and so the first BSD partition has to be offset from the disklabel area to avoid a collision.

The boot ROM was updated several times as detailed in the table below.

Boot ROM Revision History

Revision Year Comment
A 1985 Launch version for model 310 and 320
B 1987 Enables net booting across LAN
C, C1 1988 Handles SCSI drives and larger HP-IB drives; C1 fixed bugs in revision C
D 1989 Supports configuration EEPROM, internal SCSI drive, additional graphics processors
2.0 1990 Supports MC68040 processors and booting from SCSI CD-ROM


Programming Languages

The BASIC/WS and Workstation Pascal platforms were obviously designed to be programmed by their users in those two native languages. On the other hand, the HP-UX platform could support multiple languages and the tools necessary to edit, compile, debug and run code. HP-UX generally shipped in only a rather minimal configuration, with many features, including programming languages, being (expensive) optional extras. A Kerninghan & Richie C compiler was provided as standard which was sufficient to recompile the kernel but of limited use in program development. Fully functional C, C++, FORTRAN 77, Pascal and COBOL compilers were available along with HP's Softbench suite for management of compile-link-debug operations; unsecured copies of these can be found on the HP-UX Applications CD-ROM (see below). In recent times, Ansgar Kueckes has compiled a set of tools from the open-source GNU project, including the gcc, C/C++ compilers, gdb debugger, Perl programming language, emacs text editor and numerous useful utilities. This is available from the HP Computer Museum and runs under HP-UX 9.X, providing substitutes for some of HP's Softbench features. Using either the GNU or HP-UX native tools, it is possible today to build other applications to run under HP-UX.


Software Applications

Intended mainly as platforms for engineers to develop their own code, only a limited number of software applications were available to run under BASIC/WS or Workstation Pascal. The HP Computer Museum has several text editors, graphics programs and other software developed for these platforms. Hewlett Packard sold several applications developed under Workstation Pascal as stand-alone packages provided with a restricted run-time version of the operating system. These bootable systems did not require the user to own the full PAWS operating system. One such application was the Engineering Graphics System (HP EGS), which ran under Workstation Pascal and was later ported to HP-UX. HP EGS was a 2D graphics application for electronic, mechanical and general engineering design. Other examples (with HP product numbers) include a terminal emulator (98791B) and a technical word processor (HP TechWriter 1.2 98819A/R).

HP EGS Drawings
Graphics generated with HP EGS.

Powerful CAD/CAM applications, developed specifically to run under HP-UX on HP hardware, were available. These were developed using HP's Starbase graphics library which could exploit hardware acceleration and all the features of HP graphics boards and display stations. For instrument and process control, one could run a version of RMB as an HP-UX application (HP BASIC/UX) or use HP's newer Virtual Engineering Environment (HP VEE), a powerful graphical programming language tool with similar functionality to HP BASIC. Numerous other software applications were offered for HP-UX from both HP and third parties.

HP released HP-UX Applications, an extensive collection of software including programming languages and databases, on 1/4" tape or CD-ROM. Much of this software was protected by a codeword matched to a hardware ID device which restricted its use to a specific computer. For this reason, some legacy copies of HP-UX Applications cannot be used; fortunately, unprotected CD-ROMs were also released and have been archived.

Customers wishing to run only specific applications, could opt for a cut-down version of the HP-UX operating system, the Application eXecution Environment (AXE), which saved both cost and disc space.