Multics > People > Stories
08 Nov 1994

Telefunken TR440

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Tom Van Vleck

MIT had the rights to sell Multics software developed as part of the joint development project to anybody. They only did this once, when they sold the (version 1) Multics PL/I compiler to Telefunken Computer in 1973. Telefunken wanted a PL/I compiler, and here was a compiler, written in PL/I, already working. I remember they negotiated with Bob Scott, the Director of MIT IPS, and that the high point of the Germans' trip was playing with Bob's brand new HP-65 calculator.

We packed up a shipment for Telefunken and sent it to them. Then in December 1973, I flew to Germany to explain to them what was on the tapes, and get them started on their port of the PL/I compiler to the 48-bit TR440. I am not & was not a compiler wizard, but they knew that part; what they needed was information on data representation, hcs_ calls, tape formats, and other mundane matters. I helped them with that part.

Telefunken was located in Konstanz Germany, on the Bodensee. I flew into Zurich just after the first oil embargo had begun, leaving long lines at the gas pumps in the US. Gasoline was no problem in Switzerland, but private cars were not allowed to drive on Sunday in Germany, and the Swiss border guards wouldn't let Germans into Switzerland unless they had more than half a tank of gas, to prevent Germans from filling up in Switzerland.

Well, I have misplaced the piece of paper that listed the names of the Telefunken PL/I compiler group. Nice & smart people, all. I heard that they did get the compiler ported and sold to some customers. Then Telefunken was gobbled up by another company and I guess the TR440 had no offspring.

Bernd Ulmann has posted a picture of an ancestor of the TR440, the Telefunken TR-4.

08/25/93, updated 11/08/94