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View Full Version : Meeting Dan Paymar: Point 4 BASIC interpreter and IRIS os writer - DG Nova connection



firebirdta84
October 9th, 2015, 06:46 PM
Has anyone here ever heard of Dan Paymar? I'm meeting with him tomorrow here in Vegas, to discuss his history with and memory of Point 4.

Because of my reconstruction of the Microtech (http://microtechm1.blogspot.com), which probably used the Point 4 processor, I was doing a search on "Data General Nova" and "Point 4", and his name came up. So I emailed him, and he responded to me right away.

Here's who he is:

Dan Paymar (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Paymar)
According to wikipedia.org: Dan helped start Educational Data Systems (later renamed Point 4 Data Corp.), which developed products for the Data General Nova computer. He left Point 4 in 1982 to market his own products for the Apple II computer.

10/9/2015
"I haven't worked with a Point 4 computer for over 30 years. Been using Macintosh computers since 1984. I doubt I remember enough to be helpful to you, but it's nice hearing from someone who is still interested in the Point 4.

Although I started my computer career with hardware, I moved to system programming in 1968. I wrote the BASIC interpreter and much of the IRIS operating system, but I was never involved in the hardware, so I don't know how much I can help you. I left Point 4 before they started using streaming tape for backup."

I already talked to Bruce Ray ( http://novasareforever.org ), and he gave me some tidbits. Bruce added:
" Dan and Ira Baxter started the creation of the original EDS
(Educational Data Systems) BASIC software in a bedroom in Dan's
house in 1969. I understand that Dan's 2-year old son even "helped"
a few amusing times. :-) The development eventually moved to Paul
Davies' house (Paul was the EDS founder) when several more people
were hired. The company grew during the '70s and was eventually
renamed Point 4, and enjoyed considerable success in the DG marketplace."

Would anyone else here like to contribute to my topics of conversation tomorrow?

dorkbert
October 9th, 2015, 09:38 PM
He sold me his Apple "red book" a couple of years ago. Glade to hear he's still with us; a lot of the earlier pioneers has already passed on, and as year goes by it'll just get progressively worse...

firebirdta84
May 8th, 2016, 03:45 PM
As an update to anyone interested here, we are still in contact with Dan Paymar, who seems to be doing well, and he is providing a bit of help on our Point 4 IRIS reconstruction project.

You can follow the details at:

http://microtechm1.blogspot.com/2016/05/help-from-one-of-original-iris.html

firebirdta84
May 8th, 2016, 05:45 PM
Dan just emailed me something that seemed truly worthy of historic preservation in more than one place.

So, I will re-post his words here, for all who might be interested in more of the DG NOVA / IRIS / Point 4 history:

--------------------------------------------------------

My question:

Dan, up until now, I was thinking that IRIS was designed to run on the Point 4, but the more I re-read all you and others have said about this, was IRIS written to originally run on the DG Nova, before the Point 4 processor hardware was created?

--------------------------------------------------------

Dan's response:

Every time you write, my memory digs up more details.

Actually it was the other way around. The Point 4 computer was created to run IRIS.

Working in my home office, I designed and coded the BASIC interpreter in 1968 for a 4k DG Nova. Most of the coding was finished before I even had a computer to work on. Another consultant wrote the FP binary arithmetic and conversion routines, but I had it working with simple 16-bit integer arithmetic before he delivered the FP routines.

Then the boss, Paul M Davies, who apparently still lives in Newport Beach, found a bright high school senior, Ira Baxter, who worked with me to expand it into a 4-user timesharing system. We finally got another memory board, expanding the machine to 8k words (16k bytes). There was no hard drive, so everything still had to be saved on paper tape.

Later we finally got a 256k drum memory and another HS student, and put a 16-user system in a new junior college in El Toro. The OS was named TEX (Timesharing Executive).

It was several years later that the system was renamed IRIS, and TEX changed to REX. It was a real time system because everything was interrupt driven and could respond to external events.

So everything was on DG Novas and later a clone (Symentec?) for about ten years before the first Point 4 computer existed. The Point 4 had dynamic RAM memory; the Nova and the other machine had magnetic core memory with 2.6 microsecond cycle.

Somewhere along the line the application programmers complained about the roundoff errors that occur when converting between decimal and binary, and i responded by writing the FP decimal routines and extending the precision to 14 decimal digits, and the interpreter was renamed Business Basic.

Dan

Again, this is on our site at:

http://microtechm1.blogspot.com/2016/05/help-from-one-of-original-iris.html