History of our Compilers

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In the Beginning

The history of C68 began with a development by Mathew Brandt. The following is his own account of this period:
I started the compiler when I was working for DCA. The 68000 was fairly new then and there weren't very many compilers for it. We were doing some development on a stat mux that had a 68K in it and wanted to do the work in C. After looking at the output of the commercially available compilers I decided to try one of my own and include some basic optimizations, which none of them seemed to do. C68 was originally born on a VAX 11/750 as a cross compiler. About the time it could compile a dhrystone benchmark I changed jobs and we happened to be working on a VME10 computer which had a 68K based unix system. I got the compiler to a "compiles itself" point on this machine (even the compiled compiler would compile itself) and, amazingly, it beat the snot out of the unix compiler we had at the time.

At this time ANSI C was yet to really be ratified. I did a few things in my compiler because I liked them, things like enums and private structure namespace, and almost all of my guesses as to what would make sense made it into the final ANSI document. At this point the compiler did a pretty good job on integer stuff but it could only declare floating point, not operate on it. The preprocessor was included as an inline phase and not much of the C preprocessor was implemented. In particular macros with arguments were lacking. Not bad though, for a hack.

Once I got it working to this point I kind of lost interest in working on it much. I had proven to myself that I could write a compiler and more complete compilers were beginning to come out (like GNU). I still felt like my code was a lot easier to understand than GNU though so I figured it would make a pretty good self teaching tool. I released it to the public domain and got some nifty mail back about it. A few people actually sent in donations! At some point I moved again and ditched the P.O. box I had listed in the source and nobody could track me down. I kind of figured the thing had passed on in usefullness.

Then I'm out browsing around the net a couple of years ago and I run across the free compiler list. There it is! Being actively maintained! I grabbed the latest version and was impressed by how far my original work had progressed. It was also nice to see how well the original structure of the code stood up under repeated revision by various authors.

Just one more thing... C68 was GNU before GNU was even not UNIX!


The next stage in the development was the Minix Connection

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