Author Message

I've heard about a language called BLISS, which is, as best I can gather,
a cross between C and Modula-2. I can only find it in DEC catalogues,
though. Is it a DEC proprietary language? I've heard parts of VMS are
written in BLISS.

In any case, I would like to find out more. Where could I find
documentation (preferably PD)?

Thanks in advance.

#include ".signature.obligatory"
.disclaimer     I, and I only, speak for myself, and myself only.
.cute.quote     "If you don't succeed at first, transform your data set!"

Sun, 16 May 1993 01:38:55 GMT  
These are the replies I received in response to my earlier query

Thanks, everyone.

Bliss has been around for quite a while---back in the 70s. William Wulf
et al. at CMU did a lot of work on it. See their book:

%A William Wulf
%A {\em et al.}
%T The design of an optimizing compler
%I American Elsevier Publishing Co,
%C New York
%D 1975

Yes, BLISS is a DEC systems programming language.  I've not programmed in
it, but I've read the reference manual and some other works on it.  It
looked interesting, but since it was proprietary, I never felt like doing
anything real in it.

There were at least three compilers, BLISS-36 for the PDP-10 series,
BLISS-16 for the PDP-11s, and BLISS-32 for the Vaxes.

Wulf's book _The_Design_of_an_Optimizing_Compiler_, regrettably out of
print (though you may find it if your CS library is really good), describes
a space-optimizing PDP-11 compiler.

Bliss was developed at CMU by Bill Wolfe and. I understand that the
project was done on PDP/11 machines which was provided by DEC.  I
don't think it's proprietary, but I don't think there are compilers
for other than DEC hardware. (If you hear of any, please post!)

There is a book by Wulf, Geshcke and a lot of other people called 'The
Design of an Optimizing Compiler', published by Elsevier,
approximately 1972.  It contains a long description of the
implementation of Bliss, and at least one appendix of the general
features of the language.  There are also references to other

I have only seen one DEC manual on Bliss - for the DEC-10 line of
computers. It stated that Bliss was not a fully supported language.
Later, DEC wrote the BLISS-32 compiler for VAX/VMS, so I should
expect that there is a manual for that.

I don't know of any PD Bliss stuff. If the original Bliss project was
publicly funded, perhaps parts of it is available. But I think DEC
paid for it.

>Is it a DEC proprietary language?
>In any case, I would like to find out more. Where could I find
>documentation (preferably PD)?

    From DEC.

    You probably want to avoid BLISS, however.  It's pretty ugly.  Not too many
    steps above assembler (only slightly below C in that respect).  No real
    variables, only addresses and strange dereferencing rules.  It's also
    pretty heavily bound to the VAX architecture (at least BLISS-32 is,
    BLISS-11 was bound to the PDP-11).

As I understand it, BLISS is a low-level systems programming language
originally from the PDP-11 era (i.e. it originated probably over 20 years
ago).  There was a reputedly great book written about the compiler
(coauthored by William Wulf) that is supposed to be one of the best
nuts-and-bolts compiler case-studies ever written.
I've never read it, though.  I believe it's out of print, but you might
try doing library searches (it might have been published by Digital Press)
or maybe asking your local DEC salesmen if they can hunt up a manual, as it
probably is still available for the VAXes.

Sun, 16 May 1993 21:14:54 GMT  

BLISS was developed at Carnegie Mellon University in the late 60's and
early 70's by Wulf et. al.  I believe that there was an article on the
language in C.A.C.M. on the language and what they had learned about it.

The language then spread to DEC, first for the PDP-11 and PDP-10 and then
for the VAX.  I don't know of a version that runs on machines other than

Sat, 22 May 1993 21:02:56 GMT  
 [ 3 post ] 

 Relevant Pages 

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