TOPS-10 Company / developer Digital Equipment Corporation Programmed in MACRO-10, BLISS OS family DEC OS family Working state Discontinued Latest stable release 7.04. / July 1988 Available language(s) ? Available programming languages(s) APL, ALGOL, BASIC, BLISS, COBOL, Fortran, MACRO-10 Supported platforms PDP-10 Default user interface Command line interface License Proprietary
The TOPS-10 System (Timesharing / Total OPerating System) was a computer operating system from Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) for the PDP-10 (or DECsystem-10) mainframe computer launched in 1967. TOPS-10 evolved from the earlier "Monitor" software for the PDP-6 and -10 computers; this was renamed TOPS-10 in 1970.
TOPS-10 supported shared memory and allowed the development of one of the first true multiplayer computer games. The game was called DECWAR and was a text-oriented Star Trek type game. Users at terminals typed in commands and fought each other in real time.
Another groundbreaking application was called FORUM. This application was perhaps the first so-called CB Simulator that allowed users to converse with one another in what is now known as a chat room. This application showed the potential of multiuser communication and led to the development of CompuServe's chat application.
TOPS-10 had a very robust API that used a mechanism called a UUO which is an acronym for Unimplemented User Operation. UUOs implemented operating system calls in a way that made them look like machine instructions. The API was called Monitor Calls and was very much ahead of its time like most of the operating system. System programming on DECsystem-10s was simple and powerful thanks to this extremely flexible operating system API.
TOPS-10 had an interesting scheduler with many run queues, and inserts processes into the queue depending on process priority. The TOPS-10 Operating System also included User file and Device independence.
TOPS-10 was a very fast and flexible operating system that was far ahead of its time.
The first release of the PDP-6 Monitor software was in 1964. Support for the PDP-10's KA10 processor was added to the Monitor in release 2.18 in 1967. The TOPS-10 name was first used in 1970 for release 5.01. Release 6.01 (May 1974) was the first TOPS-10 to implement Virtual Memory (demand paging) enabling programs larger than physical memory to be run. From release 7.00 onwards symmetrical multiprocessing was available (as opposed to the master - slave concept used before). The final release of TOPS-10 was 7.04 in 1988.
Hobbyists are now entitled to set up and use TOPS-10 under a Hobbyist's License.
The easiest way for the hobbyist to run TOPS-10 is to acquire a suitable emulator and an operating system image. TOPS-10 may also be generated from archived original distribution "tapes". 
Implemented programming languages
The TOPS-10 assembler, MACRO-10, was bundled with the TOPS-10 distribution.
The following programming languages were implemented on TOPS-10 as layered products:
- ALGOL, as ALGOL-10 v10B, a compiler used for general computing
- APL, as APL-SF V2, an interpreter used for mathematical modelling
- BASIC, as BASIC-10 v17F, an interpreter used for general computing
- BLISS, as BLISS-10 and BLISS-36, compilers used for systems programming
- COBOL, as COBOL-68 and COBOL-74, compilers used for business computing
- Fortran, as FORTRAN-10 v11, a compiler used for numerical computing
The following programming languages were implemented on TOPS-10 as contributions from DECUS members:
- FOCAL, as FOCAL-10
- Forth, a threaded interpreted language
- Lisp, an interpreter used for AI programming
- Pascal, a compiler used for computing education
- Simula, a compiler used for modeling
- SNOBOL, an interpreter used for string processing
Implemented user utilities
The following major user utilities were implemented on TOPS-10:
- RMS (Records Management Services)
- IQL (Interactive Query language)
Notable games implemented on TOPS-10
- DECWAR, as noted above
- FORUM, as noted above
- HAUNT, an early role-playing game
- Mac Hack, a chess program by Richard Greenblatt
- ^ a b TOPS-10 Release History
- ^ http://hsnewman.freeshell.org/decwar.htm The Decwar Page
- ^ Home hobbyist license for Digital's 36b software
- ^ The Computer History Simulation Project
- ^ KLH10 PDP-10 Emulator
- ^ TOPS-10 pre-built image
- ^ PDP-10 software archive
- ^ Notes on DEC PDP-10 Emulation
- ^ CLASSIC COMPUTING
- ^ DECsystem10/20 ALGOL Programmer's Guide, April 1977
- ^ APL-SF Language Manual, August 1979
- ^ DECsystem-10 BASIC Conversational Language Manual, March 1974
Operating systems by Digital Equipment Corporation
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