[Oberon] What is the status of Lola-2 and its use in the FPGA version of Project Oberon?

Till Oliver Knoll till.oliver.knoll at gmail.com
Sun Mar 17 12:52:45 CET 2019

> Am 16.03.2019 um 23:53 schrieb "rochus.keller at bluewin.ch" <rochus.keller at bluewin.ch>:
>  Actually I wasn't aware at all that Prof. Wirth was so far into digital design with FPGAs already at that time and even wrote a book about it for computer science students. 

I can confirm first hand that this was indeed the case ;)

I can‘t quite remember the exact name of those lectures (something like „Digitaltechnik“ or the like), but they were part of 4 out of 5 „core lectures“ that every computer science student had to choose (and pass ;)) in the so-called „Fachstudium“ (year 3 and 4 of the total ~4.5 years).

So yes, most of us students at the time designed adders, multipliers and what not with LOLA (version 1 obviously) on Ceres-3 computers ;) (the other students preferred e.g. „scientific computing“ over the above course, for instance).

And yes, the mentioned book was used for those lectures given by Professor Wirth.

I must confess that while I liked the „cleanness“ of the Oberon language, and I kind of enjoyed the „weirdness“ of Oberon (the operating system - „weird“ at least from a user‘s perspective), like many students I was pulled towards „real systems“ like Unix (which for all practical matters meant Linux to us), writing „real applications“ in C/C++ for possibly even - God beware ;) - Windows and (in my case) mostly computer graphics (specifically 3D/OpenGL).

In short: Oberon (both OS and the language) was generally accepted as being a perfect environment for learning programming, and the type safety and garbage collection were highly esteemed, most of us longed for „the real action“.

(And guess what: Oberon was the *perfect* preparation once you got into the „real mess“ ;))

Only in those days do I fully realise what a *genius* Professor Wirth really is! That man designed several computer languages. He actually wrote a compiler from scratch. He designed the entire system around some NS32000 CPU, and - oh, my the way - invented a logic language (LOLA) to describe it. Oh and did we mention already that he (together with professor Jürg Gutknecht) designed an entire operating system from scratch, implemented in the very programming language he had invented and compiled with his own compiler?

But all that would not be Niklaus Wirth, because is (for me) main genius is that he can explain *everything* in such a way that it is *understandable*! Yes, that man is one of very few persons on this planet that can actually *explain* a computer from its deepest bits up to the user interface - and most importantly, not just from a theroretical point of view, but based on very „hands-on“ practical experience.

This is pure genius. It cannot be said differently ;)


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