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Prologue: The Burroughs B 5000 Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129527D
Original Publication Date: 1987-Jan-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Document File: 2 page(s) / 16K

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Software Patent Institute

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Copyright ©; 1987 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

Prologue: The Burroughs B 5000



(Image Omitted: Categories and Subject Descriptors: K.1 [The Computer Industry]; K.2 [History of Computing] -- hardware, software, people, Burroughs Corporation, systems, B 5000. General

   Terms: Design, Management Additional Key Words and Phrases: ALGOL, stack, multiprogramming Editors Address: Bellcore, 331 Newman Springs Road, Red Bank, NJ 07701.)

The Burroughs Corporation celebrated its centennial in 1985. W. Michael Blumenthal, chairman and chief executive officer of Burroughs, included the following statement in his remarks to the 100th Annual Meeting of Stockholders: "Since our beginning, we have made significant accomplishments, but if I were to cite one major milestone in this century of progress, it was our bold introduction 25 years ago of the B 5000 mainframe -- a decade ahead of its time due to a design decision to develop hardware and software in concert, to use higher- level languages exclusively for user productivity, and to ensure compatibility as we developed new generations of mainframe systems."

This issue of the Annals is devoted to the history of that system. Twenty-five years ago the B 5000 was considered by many people to be a radical departure from the traditional computer system design of that time. In many ways the design of this system and its successors is still recognized as not only pioneering but exceptional.

Consider the following partial list of its attributes: A preconceived programming environment served as the basis for system hardware requirements.

High-level languages were used exclusively for both customer programming and systems programming.

The system was designed to be controlled by an operating system.

Multiprogramming and multiprocessing were central issues in its design.

Changes in hardware configuration were accomplished without reprogramming.

Dynamic storage allocation and descriptor-based addressing were fundamental system capabilities.

Temporary storage of both data and program control information was accommodated in a stack.

Of all of these, the incorporation of a stack is the innovation for which the B 5000 is perhaps best known. But, as will be seen in the following pages, the others are of at least equal significance to the people who participated in the effort to design, build, and market this system. Little has appeared in the public literature about the B 5000 and its successors. Neither the Burroughs corporate staff nor the managers of the B 5000 project itself encouraged project

IEEE Computer Society, Jan 01, 1987 Page 1 IEEE Annals of the History of Computing Volume 9 Number 1, Page 7

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Prologue: The Burroughs B 5000

participants to divert significant effort from the task at hand. In this issue of the Annals we are reprinting four rare exce...