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#3: MTS made available on 22 December and running under Hercules on 24 December 2011

posted Jan 7, 2012, 2:27 PM by Jeff Ogden   [ updated Jan 13, 2012, 5:26 PM ]

The following item was posted to the CC Talk (Classic Computing) list on 22 December 2011:

Al Kossow
Thu Dec 22 16:21:43 CST 2011
the sources and binaries for MTS are now available under

Al Kossow is the software curator at the Computer History Museum. He maintains the Bitsavers.org site. The actual URL for the MTS materials was changed to
shortly after Al posted his message.

Al's posting lead to a few more messages on the CC Talk list which were fun to see:

Jason McBrien
Thu Dec 22 18:17:18 CST 2011
Outstanding! I cut my teeth on MTS at Wayne State University in Detroit, they were still chugging away on an old Amdahl for Email and SPSS. I believe it was the last running mainframe implementation of SPSS, until SPSS cranked up the licensing fee so much the university relented and bought a (more expensive) site-license for Windows. Time to fire up Hercules!
Brent Hilpert 
Thu Dec 22 18:42:47 CST 2011
Indeed; Wow! MTS was the big campus timesharing system from the 70's  
to 90's at UBC.
Never expected to see it available like this.
Lyle Bickley
Fri Dec 23 10:12:17 CST 2011
This is great news! While I was working at IBM's Poughkeepsie Dev. Lab. in the 60's and early 70's, Bernard Galler (U of M) used to be a regular guest at the Lab. He lectured us on the MAD programming language and, of course, "The Michigan Terminal System" (MTS). His lectures ranged from the internals to the practical uses of MTS. He was very critical of IBM's lack of direction with regards to time sharing - and hence tried to "convert" as many of us development folks as possible into becoming timeshare advocates! After months of attending his lectures - he would get huge ovations when he would chastise IBM for not moving in the direction of "real" time sharing ;-) According to Wikipedia, MTS "still runs using IBM S/370 emulators such as Hercules, Sim390, and FLEX-ES". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michigan_Terminal_System I'll certainly give a shot at getting it running :-)
Cheers, Lyle

Josh Dersch at msu.edu
Thu Dec 22 19:00:26 CST 2011
Very cool! I have a set of MTS-related manuals from 1979, would they be of any interest to you for archival purposes, assuming you don't already have copies? (They are: "Digital Computing, FORTRAN IV, WATFIV, and MTS (with *FTN and *WATFIV)" Parts 1 & 2 by Brice Carnahan and James O. Wilkes.)
  - Josh
Christian Corti at uni-stuttgart.de
Fri Dec 23 05:35:58 CST 2011
That's great!
Is there anywhere a list of supported hardware? I'm not very comfortable 
with the idea of simulator-only software.  I'd be interested to try it 
some day on our 4331.
Tony Duell at demon.co.uk
Fri Dec 23 16:15:16 CST 2011
That's excellent. Great preservation

Al's post lead to this posting on the Hercules-390 Yahoo group on 23 December 2011:

Kevin Monceaux
Fri Dec 23, 2011 9:31 am
Hercules Fans,
I just noticed a couple of posts from Al Kossow on the CCTalk mailing list
concerning MTS. First:
On Thu, Dec 22, 2011 at 02:21:43PM -0800, Al Kossow wrote:
the sources and binaries for MTS are now available under
Then he notes they had to be moved:
On Thu, Dec 22, 2011 at 04:47:40PM -0800, Al Kossow wrote:
I fixed the line wrap on the readme and copyright files, and noticed the
path was specifed, so I had to move it to

This lead to more discussion on the Herculies-390 list.

Kevin Monceaux reports successfully IPLing MTS D6.0 from disk at 6:14 AM on 24 December 2011, a day and a half after the first announcement

Kevin Monceaux
Sat Dec 24, 2011 6:14 am
Re: [hercules-390] MTS Successful Restore and IPL (Was: MTS 6.0 Utility Tape Problem?)
Using the above trick I was also able to run the DASDI utility. I found I
also had to mount the Dump/Restore tapes on 3480 drives to perform the
restore. I just finished that and was able to IPL from DASD. I guess it's
time to start browsing through the operations manual.

Not bad for an operating system from 1988.

Discussions continued and are continuing

  • On the Hercules-390 list.
  • On a new H390-MTS Yahoo group that was created on 2 January 2012. Most of the MTS related discussions are occurring there.
  • As of 7 January 2012 several more people have reported success in restoring the D6.0 MTS system from "tape" and getting it to run under Hercules, although this is not for the faint of heart or the inexperienced.
  • Gavin Eadie made several screen shots available to help people get started.

Several photos of MTS running under Hercules are available here.

MTS distributions available from U-M's Deep Blue on 7 January 2012

And on 7 January 2012 the MTS distribution materials became available on the U-M's Deep Blue digital archive. This is the same material that is available from Bitsavers.org, but packaged a little differently.

See: Deep Blue at the University of Michigan > Archival Collections -- Bentley Library > Computing Center (University of Michigan) Records > Michigan Terminal System (MTS) Distribution Files


We owe a tremendous debt to Tom Valerio and Mike Alexander for preserving the MTS distribution materials and the 1996 MTS system that was running at U-M.

Tom has done a lot of work over the years using MTS on various S/370 emulators.

In July 2010 Gavin Eadie and Jeff Ogden (me) approached the U-M to get permission to make the MTS distribution materials available. We got a sympathetic reception from Marvin Parnes, U-M's long time Associate Vice-President for Research and Jack Bernard in the U-M General Counsel's office.

Tom, Mike, Gavin, and Jeff worked and are working with the staff at the U-M's Bentley Historical Library to preserve materials related to MTS and to make many of them available in U-M's Deep Blue digital archive. We are thankful for the reception we received from staff at the Bentley including Nancy Deromedi, Richard Adler, Nancy Bartlett, Greg Kinney, and Rasmus Falk. Rasmus is the digital archivist from the City of Aalborg, Denmark who visited Ann Arbor in the summer of 2011 and was working on projects with the staff at the Bentley.

Mike did most of the work to make the MTS distribution materials available at Bitsavers and Deep Blue. He had some help from Gavin and Jeff. We thank Al Kossow of the Computer History Museum and Bitsavers.org for his support and willingness to make MTS available on Bitsavers.