Interview with Warren Toomey

Warren Toomey, who maintains the Homebrew CPU web-ring, has received the 2022 USENIX Lifetime Achievement Award.

Interview with Warren Here


Very interesting interview, thanks!

So, given that I didn’t have a Unix system at home, I translated the Xinu book into 6502 assembly code, built an interrupt generator with a 555 timer chip, and rewrote Xinu for the Apple II. By the end of the year I had a basic shell and I could multitask on the Apple II with a Unix-like command line.

There’s a nice link within to his blog post

During this period, there was no readily-accessible Web or FTP resources in Australia (the WWW didn’t yet exist, and Australia didn’t get connected to the Internet until around 1990. When I was working on Minix, I kept my own archive of large Minix Usenet postings (i.e. patches, new application source code etc.), and when I switched over to 386BSD and FreeBSD, I did the same. Thus, I had already begun to be an “archiver”


In 1997 I began a petition to get the old Unixes released under some form of hobbyist license. This began with a questionnaire. This was followed up by a petition to the Santa Cruz Operation (copyright owners of the Unix source code) in early 1998. I was also in communication with Dion Johnson at SCO during this time, and it was he who provided the internal pressure to push the proposal along.

In March 1998, SCO released a hobbyist source license for Unix Editions 1 to 7, 32V and System III. The cost was US$100, and license holders were only permitted to exchange source code and binaries with other Unix source license holders. The hobbyist license was for personal, non-commercial use.

On the 13th May, 2000, SCO released a free hobbyist source license for Unix Editions 1 to 7, and 32V.

As for the Homebrew CPU web-ring, the earliest version I could find is from 2004 and has just 7 entries - here are the oldest captures of those, just for fun:


I had once a web page up linked there (OCTAL COMPUTERS) , but I my internet sevice provider changed so I lost my page. At the time I was working on a 18 bit cpu,and version of tiny C. This was 6800 style computer stretched to 18 bits,using a 16 bit microcode. Any roms used could fit in 22v10’s. 4 registers + PC. Subroutines jumped and saved the old pc in the AC. Addressiing modes indexed and #. Computer problems with the FPGA software and Hard Disk crash, delayed new development a few years. I was hopping to use BCC
(Bruce’s C compiler) and port the 6809 version to my cpu, and run the x86 version under
DOS, but I could never find the ELKS page for the orginal code again online.
Self hosting ,64 kb of ram, Few registers, really limits your choice of C compilers.