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MTS Distributions at U-M's Deep Blue Digital Archive

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The MTS distributions starting with D1.0 (1968) and ending with D6.0 (1988) are now available from the U-M Deep Blue Digital Archive.  The material is the same as that available from, but packaged somewhat differently. Both archives include collections of simulated magnetic tapes in AWS format together with associated documentation.

The information below is based upon the contents of a README.txt file and a COPYRIGHT.txt file that were sent to the Bentley Historical Library in late 2011 and provides a good overview of the materials that are available in U-M's Deep Blue digital archive.

README.txt – 21 December 2011 and updated 21 January 2012

Copyright © 2011 by the Regents of the University of Michigan acting as agent for the MTS Consortium and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License (CC BY 3.0). See the file COPYRIGHT.txt for details.

Description of the MTS distribution materials available in U-M's Deep Blue digital archive  

This is a description of the Michigan Terminal System (MTS) distribution materials available in the "Computing Center Records" collection within "Archival Collections -- Bentley Library" in the Deep Blue digital archive at the University of Michigan ( This material is repackaged from version 4 of the MTS Distribution archive DVD that was created on 24 June 2011 by Mike Alexander and which is available at the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

The archive contains materials from the six full and the ten partial MTS distributions as well as from two redistributions created between 1968 and 1988. Distributions 1.0 through 3.1 supported the IBM S/360 Model 67, distribution 3.2 supported both the IBM S/360-67 and the IBM S/370 architecture, and distributions D3.3 through D6.0 supported just the IBM S/370 architecture and its extensions.

Working with the D6.0 distribution materials it is possible to create an IPLable version of MTS. A new D6.0A distribution of MTS makes this easier. D6.0A is based on the D6.0 version of MTS  from 1988 with various fixes and updates to make operation under Hercules in 2012 smoother. In the future an IPLable version of MTS will be made available based upon the version of MTS that was in use at the University of Michigan in 1996 shortly before MTS was shutdown.

Archive contents

Included in the Deep Blue archive you will find:

README.txt                            This file.
COPYRIGHT.txt                    The copyright, license, and limitation of liability
                                                  statement for the MTS distribution materials.  The distribution materials for D1.0 and D1mod1  The distribution materials for D2.0, D2.1, D2.2,
                                                  and D2.3  The distribution materials for D3.0, D3.1, and D3.2  The distribution materials for D4.0, D4.1, D4.2,
                                                  D4.2A, D4.2B, and D4.3  The distribution materials for D5.0 and D5.1  The distribution materials for D6.0              The executables, source code, and documentation
                                                  for a program to read AWS tapes including *FS
                                                  format tapes. The program operates under
                                                  Windows, Mac OS, and Unix. Copies of this
                                                  material are also included in each of the MTS
                                                  six distribution archives.

Each zip archive contains:

README.txt         This file.
COPYRIGHT.txt  The copyright, license, and limitation of liability
                               statement for the MTS distribution materials.
mtsDistDoc         A directory that contains notes and other documents
                              describing each MTS Distribution.
mtsDistTapes    A directory that contains the MTS Distribution
                              tapes in AWS tape format for each distribution together
                              with the notes and other documents describing the
lbltp                   A directory containing executables, source code, and
                              documentation for a program to read AWS tapes. The program
                              operates under Windows, Mac OS, and Unix. It understands
                              and can decode the *FS format tapes that were used
                              for MTS distributions starting with D2.2.


The finding aids at the U-M's Bentley Historical Library will be updated to contain additional information. See            

The notes and documentation for each MTS distribution are in the zip archives for each distribution. Different documentation files are available for different distributions, but the files include:

xxxNOTES or Notes  General notes for the distribution. Starting with D3.0
                            the general notes include a general description of the
                            distribution components and format of the distribution
                            driver file listing.
xxxDESCR           Description of the distribution.
xxxOLDSYS         Instructions for existing MTS installations.
xxxNEWSYS         Instructions for new MTS installations.
xxxDRIVER         Distribution driver file (positive line numbers only).
                            The format of a driver file is given as part of the
                            description of the *DEDIT program in "MTS Volume 2: Public
                            File Descriptions".
xxxLIST            The distribution driver file listing.
xxxINDEX          A distribution driver file index listing.
xxx5LINE          A listing showing the first five and last five lines of
                           each tape file.
xxxMEMOS          A list of UM Computing Center Memos at the time of the
xxxLOG              A file which is a console log of the process of copying
                           the original distribution tapes to 3480 cartridge tapes
                           in 1996.  There were problems reading some of the original
                           tapes and these log files may be useful when determining
                           whether the copies here contain what you want, although
                           we tried to mention all such problems in the notes below.
Dm.n-CF.*, Dm.n-CHGFRM.*, Dm.n-CHGFORM*  Change form data and files.
D1.0-TAPES.pdf   A scan of the handwritten notes listing the contents for
                                 the first version of D1.0 (UBC).
D4.2A-xxx.*         The driver files for the D4.2A redistribution tapes
                                 submitted by SFU, UBC, UNE, and WSU.
D6MTS_DOC             A brief description of MTS, the MTS Consortium, and the
                                 terms under which MTS was licensed to new sites.

Additional documentation

Additional MTS documentation is available:

Distribution driver files

Starting with Distribution 3.0 most MTS distributions were created using a "driver file" which is a file containing information about what should be written on the tape and where to find it, as well as comments about each file.  The MTSDistDoc directory contains the driver file for each distribution that used one.  Line numbers are significant in MTS driver files.  Each file on the tape is assigned a component and sub-component number and the line describing that file is in a line "n.mmm" where "n" is the component number and "mmm" is the sub-component number.  The comments are in negative lines in the same file and the lines between 0 and .999 contain directory information (in later driver files).  Only the positive lines have been copied to the individual driver files in this archive and the line numbers have been lost (of course).  Since the text of each line also contains the component and sub-component number, they could be recovered.  The original driver files are on the tapes and lbltp could be used to get the line numbers also.  See the notes for distribution 3.0 or any later distribution for more information about driver files.

Among many other items of information the driver files give the tape names and tape file numbers for each component included in a distribution. In fact, because most MTS distributions were available on either high density or low density magnetic tapes, the driver file lists two pairs of tape names and tape file numbers, one pair for each density.  The simulated tapes in the distribution archive were all created from the higher density tapes.

Simulated distribution tapes and the lbltp program

Many of the tapes in MTSDistTapes are in MTS *FS tape format.  This is the format used by the *FS program in MTS to save MTS files on tape.  This format preserves MTS line numbers and record boundaries without using line ending characters.  The directory lbltp contains a program that will read these tapes in Windows and Mac OS X.  The source is included and it should be easy to recompile it for most any Unix system.  See the ReadMe file in that directory for more information.

Simulated tapes from each of the full (Dm.0) and partial (Dm.n) MTS distributions and a few of the redistributions (RDnn or Dm.nx) are available, but not all of the tapes from each distribution were preserved. In particular some of the utility tapes, dump/restore tapes, and most of the redistribution tapes were lost.

Full distributions include all of the MTS components. Partial distributions contain only those MTS components that changed or were added since the previous full or partial distribution. Redistributions contain less formally organized materials from MTS installations other than just UM.

Some of the simulated tapes are unlabeled and some are "volume label only" (VLO) tapes. VLO tapes are unique to MTS (or the lbltp program) and consist of a VOL1 label with the rest of the tape constructed as an unlabeled tape (tape marks without tape labels separate tape files).

The character text data on the distribution tapes is EBCDIC. In the documentation files that have been extracted from the distribution tapes, the EBCDIC data has been translated to ASCII (UTF-8).

To extract files from the distribution tapes:

 1) If you haven't already done so, download, uncompress, and extract
    the desired distribution archive and find the lbltp directory.
    1a) Documentation is included in lbltp/ReadMe and
    1b) Executable versions of the lbltp program are available for
        Windows (lbltp/Windows/lbltp.exe) and Mac OSX (lbltp/MacOSX/lbltp).
    1c) C source code is included to allow the program to be compiled/built
        for other platforms (lbltp/Source).
 2) Figure out which simulated tape(s) and the number(s) of the file(s) on
    the tape(s) that contain the file(s) you are interested in by looking
    at distribution driver file listings (xxxLIST), looking directly
    at the distribution driver file(s) (xxxDRIVER), or at one of the
    other documentation files for distributions available in the
    MTSDistDoc directory.
 3) Use the lbltp program to extract the files from the simulated tape.
    3a) Use lbltp's "open" command to select a simulated tape file.
    3b) Use lbltp's "list" command to verify that you are working with the
        correct tape file.
    3c) Use lbltp's "copy" command to extract files from the simulated tape.
    3d) For unlabeled, non-FS format tapes, use the "format" and "output"
        options on the copy command.
    3e) The lbltp program will normally select the correct options by
        default, but you can use the "translate" and "line" options on
        lbltp's copy command to control translation from EBCDIC to ASCII
        and how MTS line numbers are processed.


The rest of these notes describe each of the MTS distributions in MTSDistTapes and MTSDistDoc.

D1.0 (October 1968)

There were two versions of the D1.0 distribution. The first version was prepared for the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the second was prepared for Newcastle University (UNE/NUMAC). The second version was created by copying the tapes from the first version and appending new and updated files to the end. Only the second version (UNE/NUMAC) is included here. contains distribution 1 tape 1 in files 1 through 259 and distribution 1 tape 2 in files 260 through 472.  It was originally, and still is, unlabeled.  All files are format FB(6400,80).  The documentation for this distribution consists of the "5 line" listing in DIST1.5LINE which contains the first and last 5 lines of each file on the tape, a PDF containing a scan of handwritten notes made while the first (UBC) version was being prepared, and a "Notes" file containing Mike's notes based on an inspection of the tape.

D1mod1 (1969?)

Distribution 1 Modification 1 was a small addendum to distribution 1.0 contained on one unlabeled tape.  It has been copied to as an unlabeled tape.  All files are format FB(4000,80).  The only other documentation for this is the "5 line" listing in D1MOD1.5LINE.

D2.0 (February 1970) contains distribution 2.0 tape 1 (staff tape S517) in files 1 through 442 and D2.0 tape 2 (S518) in files 443 through 660.  It was originally unlabeled and still is.  All files are format FB(4000,80). is a copy of staff tape S519 which has the distribution 2.0 file save tape in files 1 and 2.  This is the format used by the backup/restore programs in MTS and is probably useless outside MTS.  It is essentially a track by track dump of the tracks used by each file on the disk.  Files 3 and 4 are copies of the third edition (November 1969) of MTS Volume 2: Public File Descriptions.  File 3 is the text90 (?) input and file 4 is the printed output. File 5 is the first preliminary edition of the MAD/I manual dated September 1969. File 6 is a paper by D. R. Reddy and W. M. McKeeman titled "Computer Programming: An Introduction to PL".  From the preface: "PL, a dialect of PL/1, is specifically designed for teaching beginning programming students. This system was developed at Stanford University as a result of a student programming language project initiated by Professors McKeeman and Reddy." and are copies of the distribution 2.0 Basic (S520) and Full (S521) Restore Tapes. Both unlabeled. There were read errors on blocks 646 and 647 of file 1 when tape S520 was copied to the cartridge tape.  There were also read errors on blocks 131 and 255 of file 2 when tape S521 was copied to the cartridge tape.  Both sets of read errors were recovered as well as possible and the tapes may be ok, see the log file for details.  These tapes have been copied to and since it was not clear which was which.  Tape 3 is a lot smaller, so it may be the basic restore.  It's smaller because most tracks are empty (not formatted).  This was back in the days when MTS wrote two records per track (not page size) and formatted the track the first time it wrote to it. The only other documentation for distribution 2 is the "5 line" listing in DIST2.5LINE.

D2.1 (June 1970)

Distribution 2.1 was a partial distribution that augmented distribution 2.0.  It consisted of one tape in *FSAVE format.  *FSAVE was the first attempt to write a program that could be used to save MTS files to tape and there are no current programs that read the tapes it wrote.  There is a description of distribution 2.1 in D2.1DESCR. is a copy of the unlabeled D2.1 FSAVE tape (S503) which was converted to *FS format (as understood by lbltp) when it was copied to a cartridge tape.  There were problems reading tape file 5 (*LISPCOM), and the resulting file is not valid.  *FS complained about "Line number incorrect near lines 2647 and 2270" when it restored it. is a copy of the original unlabeled FSAVE tape for D2.1 before it was converted to *FS format.

D2.2 (1971?) is the unlabeled D2.2 tape.  There are several files associated with this which were created when the tape was copied.  D2.2DESCR is a copy of the last file on the tape, but only the positive lines were copied and the line numbers were lost.  This is a very early format driver file, but it was not actually used to create the D2.2 tape. D2.2DRIVER is a version of this driver file converted to the current driver file format (but again line numbers and negative lines were lost, see D2.2.LOG for the gory details).  The negative lines are the same in these two and could be recovered from the last file on the tape if necessary.  D2.2LIST is a *DEDIT listing of this driver file.  D2.2.5LINE is a listing of the first 5 and last 5 lines of files 1 through 123 on the tape (the others are not in a format that nline could handle).

D2.3 (1972?) is the unlabeled D2.3 tape.  The first 23 files on the tape are an FSAVE tape, containing *BASIC (?).  The only documentation for this is the log file from when it was copied to a cartridge tape.

D3.0 (August 1973)

Distribution 3.0 consisted of five *FS tapes and a dump/restore tape.  The 5 *FS tapes are in through  The dump/restore tape is in  All the tapes are unlabeled.  Originally the dump/restore tape had two files after the apparent end of the tape containing the source for TABLES (file 8) and the listing for the TABLES generator (DECKGEN) (file 9).  They were not copied when the tape was copied to a file since they appear to be after the end of the tape.  The source for both of these is on the *FS tapes, although there isn't a listing for DECKGEN. 

The documentation for this distribution consists of the driver file (D3.DRIVER) and a listing of it (D3.LIST) as well as a description of the distribution (D3.NOTES) and instructions for updating an existing MTS installation (D3.OLDSYS).  As usual the log for copying the tapes to cartridge tapes is in DIST3.LOG.

D3.1 (March 1974)

Distribution 3.1 consisted of one unlabeled *FS tape which has been copied to  There were some problems copying file 273 (the MTS Volume 2 table of contents) from the reel to reel tape to the cartridge tape, but it seem to have been copied correctly after some retries.  There is a driver file for this in D3.1.DRIVER and a listing of the driver file in D3.1.LIST.

D3.2 (March 1975)

Distribution 3.2 consisted of two unlabeled *FS tapes which have been copied to and  There were no problems copying the original tapes.  Again the driver file and its listing are in D3.1.DRIVER and D3.2.LIST.

D4.0 (August 1977)

Distribution 4 consisted of 3 *FS tapes and a dump/restore tape.  The 3 *FS tapes are in through as Volume Label Only (VLO) labeled tapes with volume names D4T1 through D4T3.  A VLO tape is a tape that has a VOL1 label but otherwise looks like an unlabeled tape.  Only MTS and lbltp support that format.  The dump/restore tape wasn't copied to a cartridge tape and so is lost. 

The driver file is in D4.DRIVER and there is a listing of it in D4.LIST.  D4.INDEX is an index of the driver file sorted by component name.  D4.NOTES contains a description of the distribution while D4.NEWSYS contains instructions for installing it on a new machine and D4.OLDSYS contains instructions for upgrading an existing installation.  D4.MEMOS is a list of all the UM Computing Center Memos that existed at the time the distribution was produced.

D4.1 (May 1978)

Distribution 4.1 consisted of one *FS tape and one dump/restore tape.  The notes prepared for D4.1 say that there were two *FS tapes, but there seems to only have been one at 6250 BPI.  The driver file index is at the end of the first tape, so it must have been the only tape.  The *FS tape is in as a VLO tape with volume name D4.1T1.  The dump/restore tape is in as an unlabeled tape. 

The documentation for this distribution is similar to distribution 4.0.  The main difference is the presence of "change forms".  For a while we tried to document changes to MTS with these change forms, but it was never done all that consistently and the practice was dropped after distribution 5.0.  D4.1.CHGFORM is a listing of the change forms for distribution 4.1.  D4.1.CF.PGM is a Snobol4 program to produce this listing using D4.1.DF.DATA as input.  D4.1.CF.DESC is a description of this process.

D4.2 (March 1979)

Distribution 4.2 consisted of two *FS tapes and one dump/restore tape.  The dump/restore tape has been lost. The two *FS tapes are in and as VLO labeled tapes with volume names D4.2T1 and D4.2T2.  There were problems reading d4.2t1.  File 144 (FORTRANH.OBJECT.OC.005) had read errors but was probably recovered ok.  Files 321, 322, 330, and all files from 334 to the end of the tape were unreadable and were lost.  There were problems with d4.2t2 also, but less severe.  File 111 (INTERACTIVE_FORTRAN.INT.SA.031) was unreadable and was truncated after block 11.  The documentation for this distribution is similar to distribution 4.1.

D4.2A or RD16 (July 1979)

Distribution 4.2A was also known as Redistribution 16.  It was one of a series of "redistributions" where tapes from all the MTS sites were sent to UM and then "redistributed" to the other sites.  Little or no attempt was made to merge the contributions into one consistent whole.  It consisted of two *FS tapes which are in and as VLO tapes labeled RD16T1 and RD16T2.  FS file 64 on tape 1 (FILE_SYSTEM.WRITEI.SA.011) was unreadable on the original tape and is not correct on these tapes.

D4.2A.DRIVER and D4.2A.LIST describe the Michigan contributions to this tape while the other files describe contributions from Simon Fraser University (SFU), the University of British Columbia (UBC), Newcastle University (UNE), and Wayne State University (WSU).

D4.2B or RD17 (October 1979)

Distribution 4.2B was a small distribution consisting of one short *FS tape which is in as a VLO labeled tape with volume name 4.2BT1.  There is a driver file for it in D4.2B.DRIVER with a listing in D4.2B.LIST. D4.2B.NOTES contains a short description of the redistribution taken from the last item in the driver file (9999/001).

D4.3 (May 1980)

Distribution 4.3 consisted of a dump/restore tape (which was not preserved) and two *FS format tapes.  The *FS tapes are in and as VLO labeled tapes with volume IDs 4.3T1 and 4.3T2.  There were problems copying the original 4.3t1 tape to a cartridge tape.  Files 607 and 610 have extra junk at the end and 608 and 611 are missing (these two facts are related, the extra junk is the header for the following file since the tape drive missed the tape mark).  File 740 (TAXIR.FLECS_LISTING.L.002) is incomplete and all the files from there to the end of the tape are missing.  The original tape had at least 915 files, so a lot are missing.  The other tape was copied without problems.  The documentation for this distribution is similar to distribution 4.2.

D5.0 (August 1981)

Distribution 5.0 consisted of three sets of tapes: dump/restore tapes for a one pack system, a utility tape used to get MTS up and running initially, and several *FS format tapes.  Only the *FS format tapes have been preserved.  They are in through as VLO labeled tapes with volume IDs of 5.0T1 through 5.0T4.  There were no problems copying these tapes and they are checksumed *FS tapes so they are probably ok.  The documentation for this distribution is similar to the previous ones.

D5.1 (August 1983)

Distribution 5.1 was similar to 5.0 and consisted of dump/restore, utility, and *FS tapes.  Only the VLO *FS tapes have been preserved, and there were problems with them.  The first and third tape copied without problems, but there were lots of problems with tape 2.  File 696 was lost and all files from 815 through the end of the tape (at least file 1271) were lost.  What's left of distribution 5.1 is in through as VLO labeled with volume IDs of 5.1T1 through 5.1T3.  The documentation for this distribution is similar to distribution 5 except that there aren't any change forms.

D6.0 (April 1988)

Distribution 6.0 was similar to 5.0 and 5.1.  It consisted of one utility tape, 3 dump/restore tapes, and 6 *FS tapes (in the 6250 BPI version of the distribution).  All of these tapes have been copied to AWSTapes.  The utility tape was originally labeled, but the labels were lost when it was copied to a file.  The labels were reconstructed from a *LABELSNIFF listing (since they matter) and the result is an AWSTape in  The volid is MTSUTL.  The *FS tapes are in as VLO tapes with volid 6.0tn (n = 1...6).  The dump/restore tapes are all unlabeled tapes in through  There were a few problems copying the second dump/restore tape, but it seems to have copied ok in the end.  The other tapes copied without trouble.

The documentation for this distribution (which was the last MTS distribution) is similar to the previous ones with the addition of D6.0-MTS-DOC which is a general description of MTS and the MTS Consortium.

D6.0A (January 2012)

Distribution 6.0A is a recently created and repackaged version of D6.0 from 1988. The goal for D6.0A is to make it easier to run the D6.0 version of MTS under Hercules. It is not a true full, partial, or redistribution since it does not include any simulated AWS tapes. Instead it includes simulated disk and other files and documentation for use with Hercules. The D6.0A distribution should be used in conjunction with the materials contained in or d6.0.tar.gz.

The D6.0A system is based on D6.0 with several updates to fix problems that came to light since 1988 and to make MTS operate more smoothly under Hercules. D6.0A is currently available from the MTS Archive site, but we hope to make is available from and Deep Blue in the future. The README-D6.0A.txt file explains what is included in the D6.0A distribution, where it is available, and how to use the material with Hercules.

    Mike Alexander       Jeff Ogden                        Richard Adler

COPYRIGHT.txt – 14 November 2011

Copyright © 2011 by the Regents of the University of Michigan acting as agent for the MTS Consortium.

Except as explicitly noted elsewhere for specific programs and files, this collection and the individual programs and files that it contains are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License (CC BY 3.0). This license allows you to use, copy, adapt, share, distribute, and transmit the work provided that you attribute the work by including this copyright statement and the name of the work, version number, volume reference, or date of publication that identifies the work in the copies or adaptations you make.

To view a copy of the full license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.


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