Over in the parent thread @EdS and others suggested that there were probably no specifically targeted textbooks for the early micro / home computing pioneers like Gary Kildall to study the way later generations would study (e.g.) Tannenbaum’s OS:DI. Instead they would have drawn from “across the tracks,” as it were, from the parallel world of minicomputers and big iron.
I grew up in the '80s playing a lot of ATARI and NES games, so it wasn’t a shock when I discovered that people are still doing cool things with 8-bit processors. I have basically no exposure to the minicomputer and mainframe worlds, though, so I’m wondering where to turn my attention next.
I’m thinking this should depend on two things:
First, the quality of available literature; it should focus on low-level system programming without relying on pre-supplied libraries, be well-written, and so on.
Second, the design of the system; It should be relatively elegant (I’ve read the Mythical Man Month; I probably don’t want to study OS/360 except as a cautionary tale… ), and the concepts should be relatively portable or general (I mean that, to pick a silly example, studying protected mode task switching on the 386 probably wouldn’t contribute much to designing an 8-bit BIOS).
@elb already suggested the PDP-11 and recommended a book that, as he put it: “starts from the premise that you have a PDP-11 and an assembler and some work to do, and walks through bespoke assembly language implementations of interesting computations on raw hardware.” That was such a perfect description of the kind of literature I was hoping to find that I wanted to quote it again.
I know that the PDP-11 has memory protection, which my CoCo doesn’t (it’s a CoCo 2). I know many 8-bit CPUs don’t support re-entrant code, but the 6809 I have does do that. I’m having a little trouble putting this clearly, but I think what I want to ask is, what sort of useful mappings should I look for from minicomputer to micro, and what sort of dangerous ones do I need to watch out for?