a little computer trivia: "boot"

BLinux

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Ok, I swear I wasn't one of those kids that annoyed grown ups with asking "why?" about everything, but in my old age, I've apparently turned into that kid. My wife finds it amusing, so I guess I'm a lucky guy :). I'm always asking questions on seemingly trivial matters that are accepted without question: why 7 days in a week? why is the day divided by day and night of 12 hours? how did romans do math with roman numerals? why people in GB have such poor taste in food? :)

So, today, I happen to ask, why do we say "boot your computer", or "reboot your computer", etc? How does it have anything to do with the things you wear on your feet?

So, I came across this:

bootstrap (n.)
also boot-strap, tab or loop at the back of the top of a men's boot, which the wearer hooked a finger through to pull the boots on, 1870, from boot (n.1) + strap (n.).

Circa 1900, to pull (oneself) up by (one's) bootstraps was used figuratively of an impossible task (among the "practical questions" at the end of chapter one of Steele's "Popular Physics" schoolbook (1888) is, "30. Why can not a man lift himself by pulling up on his boot-straps?" and an excellent question it is). By 1916 the meaning of the phrase had expanded to include "better oneself by rigorous, unaided effort." The meaning "fixed sequence of instructions to load the operating system of a computer" (1953) is from the notion of the first-loaded program pulling itself (and the rest) up by the bootstrap. It was used earlier of electrical circuits (1946).
I never knew...
 

Marsh

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Are you old enough to remember Altair 8800 or IMSAI 8080 computer?

Bootstrap .....
My first PC was IMSAI 8800 , there were no boot prom, I used the toggle switch to enter the machine instructions boot code for the computer to do anything.

I was just out of high school then, working and living on my own.
I just check my Social Security earning statement.
In 1976 , I made $2,488 that year working part time minimum $2.30 wage job.
I sort of remember that I paid a bit over $350 for the kit, brought the IMSAI kit from a guy that failed to assemble the kit.

The IMSAI and Altair kits were discard few decades earlier, today I still have the power supply from the IMSAI kit.
I am 64 years old now, once in a while , I still have pleasant dream about assembling and using the IMSAI S100 kit.

My obsession with computer started 43 years ago.
 

britinpdx

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feb ‘83 for me on DEC PDP-11, which had a boot loader, but after a few months was introduced to the older PDP-8, which (if memory serves me) required manual “load accumulator” sequence to bootstrap. Seem to remember that the PDP-8 was also sporting core memory, and not a lot of it (maybe 16k ?)
I remember being gobsmacked that a single PDP-11 processor could run a multi user environment with the TSX-Plus “extension” on multiple VT100 terminals.
In terms of programming, cut my teeth on Pascal back in the day, a beautiful language.
 

BLinux

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@Marsh No, i'm definitely not that old school. Honestly though, where i was when I was growing up, at the time was probably considered a "developing economy" and computers were reserved for the elite and the internet was unheard of. my school was fortunate to have a few computers in the lab that we got a little bit of time on (using cassette tapes for storage and later floppy). I self-taught myself to program in BASIC on a Sharp calculator that had a BASIC interpreter in it; really weird computing device, but I managed to write an entire game into the calculator. I don't even remember how I acquired that device, but got it 2nd hand. Some of the kids at school were learning Pascal, but I never got into that class. I later took a C class 1st year in college, but dropped out as I couldn't understand anything the prof was trying to teach. Stepped away from computers during the rest of my academic years until grad school. Then I taught myself C and C++ and half a dozen other languages and ended up jumping into the tech industry during the dot-com boom.

The 1st computer I truly owned, other than Sharp calculator I had as a kid, was a Gateway 2000 PC with a Pentium 90Mhz (with the Pentium bug) that I overclocked to 100Mhz. So, yeah, I'm not that old school... but I guess that's a relative term if compared to my kids who have never seen a computer with a single core CPU.
 
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Marsh

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I wasted my youth, skip college , bump around , no steady fulltime job till much later in life.

In 1983, paid $1k for a personal PC with 5 megabyte hard drive, borrow a copy of SCO unix from a friend.
Learn C and Unix programing on my own.
Few years later , land a job with Oracle doing development work.

It was an amazing journey.

Pascal brought back fond memory,.
I was bumping around Big Sur area , living in the back of a pickup truck.
I stumble upon on a Pascal language book , then I spent a week reading the Pacsal book on the beach.
I remember the warm lazy afternoon if someone mention Pascal.
 

Terry Kennedy

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feb ‘83 for me on DEC PDP-11, which had a boot loader, but after a few months was introduced to the older PDP-8, which (if memory serves me) required manual “load accumulator” sequence to bootstrap.
The PDP-8 was a beast to boot. Many front panels had the paper tape loader toggle-in instructions as part of the front panel artwork. You toggled that in, which let you load the "RIM loader" from the console teletype paper tape (at 110 baud!). The RIM loader knew how to load the "BIN loader", which was a somewhat more sophisticated format (variable start addresses, packed words, etc.). With the BIN loader you could then load FOCAL (a simple interpreted language). Bear in mind all of this reading-in was happening at the blinding speed of 10 characters per second. Here is a PDP-8 front panel (not my picture) from an OEM LORAN-C system:


Seem to remember that the PDP-8 was also sporting core memory, and not a lot of it (maybe 16k ?)
You definitely wanted core memory, since it meant that you could turn on the system, load an address and hit start, rather than loading in all of the paper tapes again. Of course, since the PDP-8 lacked memory protection, a program bug could scramble memory and you'd need to start from the beginning.

The stock PDP-8 memory size was a 4K bank of 12 bits (or about 6KB). Some models could have additional banks of memory installed.
I remember being gobsmacked that a single PDP-11 processor could run a multi user environment with the TSX-Plus “extension” on multiple VT100 terminals.
There were some amazing systems built with PDP-8 processors as well. One of the earliest check approval services (stores would call them up and tell them a checking account number, and the service would tell them if it was likely that the check would bounce) ran PDP-8s with multiple terminals and disk drives (a rarity) for some accounts. Their standard service involved hundreds of agents looking up account numbers in printed books. Customers could pay a lot more to get a response within 30 seconds or so from an agent using a computer terminal, instead of the several minutes it would take to look the same information up in the paper books.

I built a 64-user timesharing system on a Data General Eclipse S/200 (the DG Nova and Eclipse were 16-bit systems like the PDP-11, so a good deal more advanced than the PDP-8). But my 64-terminal was the largest 16-bit DG timesharing system in the world, ever.

The Data General Nova/Eclipse and DEC PDP-11 systems were very different in their design, despite both being 16-bit systems. DEC continued with the toggled-in bootstrap of the PDP-8, although later PDP-11 systems had that code in permanent storage (originally diode matrix, then later in ROM). The Data General did it all in hardware - you set the device address in the front panel switches, set the high bit if it it was a DMA device (disk or tape), pressed "program load", and magic happened. For example, the most common disk type was a Diablo 44 (5MB-over-5MB removable/fixed platter drive) that you booted with 100033.
 

Evan

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You know all the random shit you remember from long long ago...

Couple that came immediately to mind for me;

make dep; make clean ; make zlilo
(Making pre 1.0 Linux kernels, on a 486 or pentium it wound still take many hours , used to leave it overnight)

t457s
The SAP R/3 MRP and forecast block table, back in the really early days of R/3 , version 2.x mostly... anyway the reasons why don’t matter, just random stuff you remember because at the time it gave you a lot of stress or joy... mostly stress ;)
 

zkrr01

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My first computer was in my junior in college, an IBM 1620 that loaded using paper tape. When I got my degree in Computer Science in 1972, I went to work at a major oil company and was amazed when I first reported for work and saw three IBM 360 computers driving row after row of tape drives. Then came the first microcomputers.
 

manxam

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make dep; make clean ; make zlilo
Oh you poor fool! ;)

Code:
make dep && make clean && make zlilo
; means to run the next command after the first completes regardless of the status.
&& means run the next command if exit status = 0 (completed without errors).

How many times did the build fail on you and you weren't sure where it failed? :D
 

Evan

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Haha I know that now, was still learning the ways 25 years ago :)

Build failed often ! Back then of course Linus was actually in my address book , 0.x kernel days were fun.