Лилит / Lilith (1977-1981)

Исследовательский проект по разработке производительной рабочей станции «Лилит», основной целью которого было совместить разработку железа и ПО.


Summary of projects by N. Wirth, 1962 - 1999:
« During a sabbatical year spent at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, Wirth was confrontred with an entirely new concept in computer usage: the personal work station. Without the least doubt, the personal work station was superior to the conventional computation center almost wherever computers were used: for the computer scientist, the system designer, in the office, the laboratory, and in particular also in the class room. Unquestionably, the advances in microelectronics would make it possible to manufacture personal work stations economically within the next five years. Whoever had a work station at his disposal would be ahead in the development of software suitable to this new mode of operation. In 1977, Wirth initiated a research project to develop a powerful work station: Lilith. A primary objective was to combine the design of hardware and software. Thereby the project expanded into an integrated design effort for hardware, microcode, operating system, compiler, and elementary application programs. The new mode of highly interactive usage required new concepts concerning the operating system and editors.

Inspite of the enormous task, the goal was successfully reached within three years thanks to the intensive and dedicated work of up to seven assistants. Today, 60 Lilith computers are in daily use at the Institute at ETH, and about 250 more in universities and in industry (e.g. Burroughs, Floating-Point Systems, TRW, Tektronix, Signetics) in the USA. Lilith demonstrated that a workstation can be a powerful, convenient, and even economical tool not only in the office, but in applications which so far had been the exclusive domain of large scale computers, such as computer-aided design.

Apart from the operating system and the compiler, interactive editors belong to the basic software of a system intended for program development. Editors were to be designed in entirely new ways; after all, the challenge lay in making optimal use of the new facilities offered by the hardware, the high-resolution, bit-mapped screen, and the mouse as a position input device. Both the prototype text editor Dina and the editor Sil for line drawings were programmed by Wirth himself. Dina was the ancestor of the later document preparation systems Andra and Lara which allow arbitrary text layout and the use of many fonts, and Sil is heavily used to draw all kinds of diagrams, in particular circuit diagrams.

Perhaps the most significant contribution of the Lilith project was that it made it possible to conceive solutions that would not have been thinkable with commercially available products. The first 10 Liliths were installed in 1980, five years before similar systems were marketed. »

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