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Alpha Oberon: The Oberon System V4 for HP OpenVMS Alpha

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Alpha Oberon

The Alpha Oberon System AOS V4.2 is the first full 64 bit Oberon System for the (DEC/Compaq) HP Alpha processor under the OpenVMS 7.1 (and later) operating system. Alpha Oberon is an extensible, integrated, graphical program development environment and application framework. Based on the object-oriented, pointer-safe programming language Oberon-2, Alpha Oberon is ideally suited for program development in industry and research and serves commercial and scientific applications as well as teaching.

Project Oberon - The Design of an Operating System and Compiler by N. Wirth and J. Gutknecht, Addison-Wesley, 1992; free download in [PDF format (4MB)]

Alpha Oberon features
64 bit addressing modular many applications Alpha Oberon System logo, 9.2KB
32 und 64 bit pointer portable polymorphic types
8, 16, 32, and 64 bit integer extensible meta-programming
S, T, F, D, and G-floating object-oriented coroutines
full run-time type information X11-interface hypertext-architecture
automatic garbage collector object finalization persistent objects
fine grained symbol files (object model) year 2000 ready

Alpha Oberon Applications and Tools

Alpha Oberon includes a rich set of display- and printer-fonts, applications, tools, and games, e.g.:
  • XE extensible editor
  • graphic tools and editors: Draft, Draw, Kepler, Paint, Frames
  • symbolic run-time and post-mortem debugger
  • symbol file and class browser
  • document editor for text and graphics
  • Ref (Reference) and Put provide type information for meta-programming
  • text elements: ActiveArrow, Arrow, Automenu, Balloon, Bullet, Call, ClassRef, Clock, Command, Dialog, DigitalClock, Draft, Error, Fold, Font, Form, Graphic, Handler, Icon, Idle, Index, Info, Kepler, Latex, Line, Link, Loc, Macro, Mark, Menu, Mines, MyPopup, Object, Parc, PElems, Pict, Popup, Prog, Ref, Repet, SectionLink, Space, Stamp, Status, Style, Table, Tree, User, and Version
  • Latex converter from texts with graphics and tables
  • module Directories
  • Make
  • HTML converter from texts
  • pattern editor
  • spread-sheet
  • find with wildcard using module Directories
  • sort
  • user-interface generator (Dialogs)
  • file compression and packager
  • Expr: mathematical expression system
  • desktop calculator
  • compiler front-end generator (Coco/R)
  • Beautifier and Mess: pretty printer and profiler
  • VCS: version control system
  • games: Tetris, MineSweeper, and SameGame
  • encoder/decoder/compressor: Base64, UUDecode, AsciiCoder


The dynamic linker-loader allows program execution directly after compilation. The separate 64 bit Oberon-2 compiler A2O is needed for program development under Alpha Oberon. The OpenVMS linker is only used to build stand-alone Oberon-2 programs with A2O. Alpha Oberon runs on any Compaq Alpha workstation on-top of X11/OSF/Motif or remotely via XWindow terminal connected to any Alpha server under OpenVMS Alpha V6.1 or later. With OpenVMS V7.1 or later, Alpha Oberon uses very large memory (VLM); see Digital Technical Journal. Alpha Oberon exploits the OpenVMS 64 bit P2-space not only for dynamic data, but also for global variables and program code without any 32 bit address restrictions.
The 64 bit virtual address space is four billion times larger than the 32 bit address space.

Alpha Oberon Articles

OpenVMS AlphaOberon System press release (modulaware.com/aos_press.htm)
64 Bit Oberon for OpenVMS Alpha (modulaware.com/mdlt73.htm)
64 bit address extension of the Alpha Oberon-2 compiler (modulaware.com/mdlt68.htm)
OpenVMS AlphaOberon Port - Implementation Notes (modulaware.com/mdlt66.htm)
OpenVMS AlphaOberon - Installation Guide - Oberon Literature (modulaware.com/mdlt59.htm)
Working with AlphaOberon (modulaware.com/mdlt63.htm)
Object Model Implementation Notes for OpenVMS AlphaOberon System(modulaware.com/mdlt72.htm)

Alpha Oberon Screenshots

The following screen shots (click on the image to enlarge) show Alpha Oberon with a typical configuration of system tools:

The Oberon-2 Compiler A2O

The ModulAware.com stand-alone Oberon-2 compiler A2O is a 64 bit native-code compiler for HP OpenVMS Alpha.

A2O produces two different object file formats, both with 64 bit addressing capabilities, 1) for stand-alone OpenVMS linker, and 2) for Alpha Oberon System (AOS) V4. A2O was used to bootstrap AOS on the Alpha processor. All components of AOS and its bootloader are completely written in Oberon-2. Alpha Oberon was the first [and I believe it is still the only] full 64 bit implementation of Oberon System V4.


Alpha Oberon is source code compatible with portable programs developed for the traditional 32 bit Oberon System V4, i.e., with ETH-Zürich's Oberon System V4, and V4 implementations further developed at, and freely available from University Linz, SSW.
Alpha Oberon is binary compatible with file formats of all popular V4 text and graphics tools.

Alpha Oberon V4 Main Implementation Features

AOS/A2O is not only the first [and I believe it currently (i.e. in the early 2000s) still is the only] full 64 bit Oberon System, it is also the first Oberon-2 compiler/Oberon system to implement the combination of object model and full run-time type information (Oberon System V4 from Linz did [and I believe still does] not have the former and V4 from ETH did [and still does] not have the latter).

No Oberon-2 language extensions were required to support 64 bit LONGINT and 64 bit POINTER. Only two syntactic extensions were introduced, to support 64 bit integer literals and sets constructors. However, nobody is required to use these extensions, in order to exploit 64 bit computing and addressing. The 64 bit extensions are explained in detail in the article 64 Bit Oberon for OpenVMS Alpha (www.modulaware.com/mdlt73.htm).

Free Alpha Oberon Evaluation Kit Download

AOS with precompiled system and application modules is also free, but A2O, the compiler needed for program developement under AOS, is a commercial product. Without A2O, AOS can be used for example to view, modify, and create V4 text documents (using the XE exditor), to view, modify, and create graphical illustrations (for example using the Kepler graphics editor), and to play games (such as Obtris, Degner's Oberon Tetris) under OpenVMS Alpha.

The Alignment Trap Oberon pages offer free download of ModulAware.com's 64 bit Oberon System Evaluation Kit for Compaq's OpenVMS Alpha. There is also a technical overview, which shows a comparison of various Oberon implementations' features.

Free OpenVMS License

HP's 64 bit OpenVMS operating system for the HP Alpha processor is free for personal use, since 1999. (You can get an OpenVMS license on-line from the OpenVMS Hobbyist program.

Free and commercial Alpha Emulators

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