B6500 film transcript

Jeff Iverson and Scott Lurndal managed to preserve several Burroughs marketing films and this one concerns the B6500, called "Burroughs B6500 status report". Particularly interesting in this film is a reference to using the B5500 as a simulator(emulator) for the B6500 to test out the design and development of the instruction set architecture and the B6500-specific version MCP (shown in the film as version 0.0)

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Transcript of the film narration

B6500 status report film narrative

Here in Burrough's Corporation Pasadena California manufacturing facility, the new Burroughs B6500 electronic data processing system approaches completion.

By early summer, this system will take its place beside a B5500 in the Burroughs world headquarters computer facility in Detroit. Before years end, B6500s will be installed in financial institutions, in commercial manufacturers, in state governments, and in universities across the country.

This film is a status report, not an explanation of characteristics, speed, capacities, rather, we want you to know where the B6500 stands today, how we got to this point, and introduce you to some of the people who made it possible. 

On the test stand in Pasadena, more often than not, the B6500 looks like a sleeping giant. Yes the control panel lights flicker, tapes spin and cards are read, circuits are checked, communication is established, but other than the constant hum of air conditioning and electric motors 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, the working of the computer is generally unseen, its efficiency undetected. But within the naked frame of the B6500, and within the offices and cubicles surrounding it, much is being accomplished. Because the B6500 is not the product of one man's imagination, rather its the product of small groups of dedicated hardware designers, software programmers, manufacturing specialists, electronics engineers and sales development specialists. Brought together in concert, to develop this truly evolutionary computer system. The software of the B6500 will take the best of demonstrated Burroughs concepts to enhance the efficiency of the system. It's Master Control Program is built upon on the experience gained with the time proven Master Control Program found for example in Burroughs B5500s all over the world. Burroughs Master Control Program is one of the most significant reasons for the smooth functioning multi-programming multi-processing power and balanced utilization of hardware in this system. 

[2:46] To prove the acceptance of software developments for the B6500, simulation techniques are employed on Pasadena's B5500 each step of the way. The B6500 Master Control Program is read from magnetic tape to simulated disk, from simulated disk to simulated memory. This B5500 simulation means that the hardcore portion of the B6500's Master Control Program has run through all the operators or commands contained within the design of the B6500. 

[3:25] EOJ or end-of-job indicates successful initialization, the B6500 Master Control Program is ready to accept tasks. Thus when preliminary acceptance programs have been successfully run on the B6500 the Master Control Program can be loaded with predictable acceptance and initialization. Burroughs software techniques reflect our accent on compiler orientated hardware. All software including compilers and the MCP are written in compiler language not machine language. They are written in the familiar ALGOL and ESPOL, the executive systems problem orientated language. All programming is thus self-documentating, ideas are easily expressed, resulting in compatibility between compilers, utility programs and the operating system. 

Four tightly knit groups handle all software writing and implementation. A compiler group, a consolidated programming system group, a data management and communications group, and a support group providing documentation and training.

Bob Creech, manages the B6500 and B5500 programming systems department. Ben Dent manages the B6500 section.

In the key hardware design areas of the B6500 system the same equation holds true, close communication through small groups of men - large in experience. Erv Hauck for example was loaned to the B5000 hardware group at the end of 1960. He now heads the B6500/B5500 hardware engineering department.

All B6500 section or department managers have a minimum of 6 years experience, ranging to more than 10 years of Burroughs EDP system development and manufacture.

This longevity means to the Burroughs B6500 customer that the collective experience of talented resourceful men and women goes into each and every circuit, each and every card, in every program. Even though here on the #1 system, modifications to the core memory stacks may be necessary, and simulation may show that changes are necessary to operating programs, Burroughs design automation specifications require immediate manufacturing documentation and change, immediate programming documentation and change. We are not simply hard-wiring a prototype B6500, all changes are reflected in the logical equation book and the manufacturing documents. Thus a design change once tested and proven is made permanent. System #1 is a production unit, System #1 is thus a manufactured B6500 system, just as system #5, and 14 and 130 will be manufactured. The B6500 is a product of software innovation married to and inseparable from hardware innovation. This is the total systems approach. Under the direction of Doug Keelty?, B6500 Program Manager, software and hardware are designed and implemented simultaneously. Each dependent on the function and form of the other. Through this fusion of knowledge and resourcefulness, tried and proven in the Burroughs 500 systems family of computers come the B6500's unique results:

- Standardized system software
- Compiler oriented hardware
- Dynamic resource allocation
- Floating I/O channels
- The dual processor concept
- Self managing systems

A trip through Burroughs Pasadena facility fortifies belief in the results of the total systems approach in design automation. Why? Because systems 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 are being made ready right behind System 1. Because the Pasadena facility is already producing B6500 components on a production run basis. All manufacture begins with an engineer, expressing a design, through flowcharting, which fundamentally results in a series of logical equations. Burroughs design automation process fully implements the design by splitting it into two paths. The first the manufacture of circuit cards really begins with specifications being translated in manufacturable artwork, then from artwork to the card itself. To the etched card are added the integrated circuit chips, and discrete circuit resistors, transistors and diodes. The flow soldering process fixes all components in place. The circuits are then tested to pre-programmed specifications triggered by the indexing of a part number. Fully tested circuits go either into stores or are routed directly for insertion into a backplane of a B6500.

Design automation segmentation provides a second path for the full accomplishment of the engineers design. The instructions for wire-wrapping a backplane which interconnects the terminal points of the circuit cards. From the designers logical equations and computerized design automation comes a deck of cards describing for the wire-wrap machine, the beginning, routing and terminus point for each wire. The operation is completely automatic. This tedious and complex task performed by a very sophisticated machine thus eliminates errors, and provides a saving of thousands of man-hours per computer. 

Within the Pasadena facility, as well as at Westlake Village 45 miles away the manufacturing, testing and shipping of the all important computer peripheral devices takes place on a mass production basis. No more important peripheral exists than the exclusive Burroughs head-per-track disk file. Acceptance of the Burroughs disk file concept can easily be measured through the growth in production facilities at Pasadena, Westlake and a recently announced Mission Viejo manufacturing facility. The increased demand for disk means that in 1969 Burroughs will produce more than two and half times the number of disk files manufactured last year.

By 1971 disk production will be in excess of eight and a half times the 1968 total. 

Burroughs commitment to the full spectrum of electronic data processing may take on greater significance by this fact: Burroughs announced or opened nine new manufacturing facilities during 1968. Of these nine, seven will be directly involved in the manufacture or assembly of EDP products. While the highly sophisticated disk file production facilities are being completed at Westlake, it is completely operational in the hand assembly and testing operations so necessary in the quality production of the disk file as well as free-standing magnetic tape units, and the Burroughs tape-quad. 

As with expanded manufacturing capability, the B6500 story, and indeed the story of Burroughs itself, is an ever changing status report of growth.

Growth by virtue of people, their innovations, designs, talents, skills, and competence.  An interweaving of markedly different talents and skills, for a single purpose and result. And the Burroughs story, the B6500's story, is a status report of inanimate objects, circuit cards, solder, wire, lights, keys, cards, tape, letters and numbers - inanimate objects made meaningful by competent people for a single purpose and result. This is the B6500 in Pasadena.

Time 3m25s in the above video clip shows CRT terminal with the following text, showing execution of the B6500 emulator running on a B5500:

B6500 MCP LEVEL 0.0
TIME IS 12:01 PM

People mentioned in the film

Bob Creech - Manager of the B6500 and B5500 programming systems department
Ben Dent - Manager B6500 section
Doug Keelty (?) - B6500 Program Manager

Locations mentioned in the film

Pasadena, California, USA
Westlake Village, California, USA
Mission Viejo, California, USA
Detroit, Michigan, USA

Dates that appear in the film

At 3m32s in the film a date is entered via the CRT terminal as 6-March-1969. The terminal shown in the film is a CRT later seen on the B6500/6700.

Devices referenced in the film

Burroughs head-per-track disk file

CUBE XVI - B6500 status report

A document from CUBE (Burroughs customer user group) also recounts the status of the B6500 as of 22-April-1970.