Forth News 2000

Issue 109 October


Visits to the download page for Forthwrite etc. are running at 300 per issue, so electronic distribution appears to have trebled Forthwrite's circulation.

FIG UK has been invited to submit an article to SIGPLan Notices, a regular publication of ACM, the US Association for Computing Machinery. SIGPLan stands for Special Interest Group for Programming Languages. The article, entitled "Forth in the UK" is expected to appear in the December issue of SIGPlan.

Dutch Forth Users Group

Willem Ouwerkerk (chairman) reports that the Dutch Forth Users Group have updated their new web-site. Visit for more information about the Dutch Forth Users Group, 8052-ANS-Forth, ByteForth for AT89x051 & AVR, a hardware course, Bamboe and the 'Egel workbook.

Embedded Forth - ANS addition

In a reply to a question on comp.lang.forth from Chris Jakeman on how modern compilers work with embedded systems, Elizabeth Rather of Forth Inc. writes,

"There's a proposed addition to ANS Forth covering the development of Forth on a target system (omitting prescriptions for the interactive environment, which remains an implementor's option), in a draft at in the files XCtext5.doc and XCapp5.doc (also .pdf versions)."

Wil Baden Home Page

The following announcement appeared on comp.lang.forth:

"Announcing the Neil Bawd & Wil Baden home page. The HTML has been deduced from plaintext source files. There are ten thousand lines of heavily commented Standard Forth. The HTML and plaintext are both there. The source for the program to markup the plaintext is included - both HTML and plaintext."

Note: Neil Bawd is an anagram of Wil Baden

Object Oriented Forth Libraries

Contributors to the comp.lang.forth newsgroup have agreed on the importance of libraries in supporting object-oriented Forth. Anton Ertl is working on a portable library for manipulating data structures (like the Standard Template Library in C++) as part of a larger project. The library will be published once the project is complete.

An OOP version of Forth by Anton can be found at

pbForth for Lego MindStorms

Ralph Hempel has announced that version 1.2.1 of pbFORTH for the Lego Mindstorms system has been released.

There is also a separately available GUI for pbFORTH which runs under Windows and Linux systems.


Dr. Stephan Becher announces that the latest version of strongForth is now available for free download. StrongForth is an approach to include strong static type checking in ANS Forth.

Forth Newsgroup

The following two postings to comp.lang.forth from Howerd Oakford, a FIG UK member, make an excellent example of collaboration on the newsgroup:

Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2000
Does anyone have a Forth version of the MD5 secure hash algorithm?.....

Date: Mon, 4 Sep 2000
Thanks to everyone who replied to my quest for MD5.

Ulrich Hoffman sent me a 32 bit Forth version which compiled and ran under Win32Forth _first time_!


On 19th August, Dr. C. H. Ting gave a presentation to the Silicon Valley chapter of the Forth Interest Group on a VHDL version of his P16 microprocessor core. Jeff Fox of UltraTechnology has created an html page with information from the lecture including the VHDL code.

Jef Raskin also gave a presentation about the subject of his new book, The Humane Interface. Jef Raskin's work on the Canon Cat was featured in June issue of Forthwrite. The ideas embodied in the Cat are developed further in his new book.

Issue 108 August




Top item has to be the release of F11-UK kit - (photo and details).

F11-UK, the long-awaited controller board using an adapted version of Pygmy, has been released by FIG UK member Jeremy Fowell. Special price to members is £47 plus postage but a Pygmy Forth and $20 licence are also required. Several members have now assembled the board and already have Pygmy running.

F11-UK provides a multi-tasking Forth which can be programmed from your PC, 32K of RAM and 32K of FLASH PROM and a wide range of features such as UART and 8-bit A to D convertor.

Web Site

Our Webmaster has been busy re-vamping the FIG UK web-site. The aim is to provide a more polished look whilst ensuring continued access for those with older browsers and low bandwidth connections.

The re-vamp coincides with newly downloadable material, including Forthwrite which is in PDF and one issue behind the paper copy posted to members. The download pages have received over 600 visitors.


This annual meeting is open to all members on Sat 23rd Sept. Doug Neale has offered his hospitality once more - see August Forthwrite for details.

FIG UK and Forthwrite magazine are now listed in the on-line directory of computer industry resources under the category Languages and Tools.

UK News

The date and venue for the euroFORTH 2000 Conference have been changed to avoid the season of higher air-fares. The venue and date are Winchester, 3-5 Nov, though this has still to be confirmed.

New Products from MPE

See the MPE web site for details of the following new products and free ProForth downloads.

International News

Forth News from FIG UK is no longer the only archive of UK and international news about Forth.

RUFIG, the Russian FIG, has a news archive too with a mix of items in English and Russian.

The Unofficial Guide to LEGO MINDSTORMS Robots by Jonathan Knudsen provides 5 construction projects and 3 "alternative programming environments like NQC, pbFORTH and legOS to develop powerful software for your robots." Ralph Hempel's pbFORTH gets a whole chapter to itself.

The book - ISBN 1-56592-692-7 is published by O'Reilly at £16.60.

FIG International

FIG International is being re-organised following the resignation of President Skip Carter and Editor Marlin Ouverson. Please send offers of advice and assistance to the Board.

Board member Elizabeth Rather posted to comp.lang.forth:

"If FIG is important to you, now is the time to step forward and see what you can contribute, not only in terms of money, but also logistical support and effort to make things happen."


Dave Pochin has revamped the "Getting Started" web site The guide has now received over 6,000 visitors!

Australian company Colour Vision Systems have developed a Forth OS with TCP/IP capability and are now making this freely available. It makes good use of object-oriented Forth and is used for industrial work.

SMAL32 is a DOS based, 32 bit, direct-threaded forth compiler/interpreter for developing programs in the DOS environment. A collaborative project between English speaker Bruce Hoyt and Russian speaker Alexandr Larionov

"The real power of this system lies in the compiler. SMAL32 can produce very small compiled 32-bit DOS programs containing only the Forth words actually used by the application program plus a 9Kb compressed DPMI interface and loader. The compiler produces code with or without headers."

Forth on the WWW

The WebForth and eForth for Java pages have moved.

At the Silicon Valley Forth Interest Group meeting in February a group led by John Peters got together for the purpose of developing a web page that will act as a command line Forth. This would permit anyone to try out Forth online and to collaborate on a project.

Note: The first project is a client-side Forth executing on the client's computer source code from the host's HTML pages. The second is a server-side Forth executing on the host computer source code from the client.

StrongForth is static type-checked Forth with operator overloading created by Dr. Stephan Becher

Derrick Shearer reports on comp.lang.forth that a Forth-based MUD system called MUF is available. "MUD" stands for Multi-User Dungeon game (or game-building tool).

Support Material

The website is now open. The site will bring to you a range of articles concerning M.I.S.C. (Minimal Instruction Set Computer) Architecture, and how it is involved with Forth. Much of the content is provided courtesy of Jeff Fox at UltraTechnology.

For a ANS Forth tutorial on the web try Anton Ertl's work

David Williams of the University of Michigan has made available "a reorganized, copy-lefted version of my C-compatible structures".

Issue 107 June



Doug Beattie has provided a functional version of Camel FORTH for the TRS-80. A complete Z80 Forth system with all source code, it includes a Intel .HEX file ready to serial-boot (upload using SBOOT4T.) The system can be loaded using sBoot4T.exe v1.1, his latest enhancement to the original 19200-baud Serial Boot Loader (with terminal mode). For details, see

Ralph Hempel offers a new enhancement to pbForth for the Lego Mindstorms RCX. The new GUI is a substitute for Hyperterminal offering:

Details at

John Sadler reports that Ficl 2.04 is now available for web download from the usual place:

Ficl is a lightweight, efficient language designed to be incorporated into other programs, including (especially) firmware based systems. Ficl includes a simple but capable object model that can wrap existing data structures. Applications include scripting, prototyping, automation, hardware test and debug, command language for embedded targets.

European News

MPE have been looking for Beta Testers for their C to Forth compiler. Contact Stephen Pelc at

Comsol have announced Micro-Search, their free web-based microprocessor selection service.

Initially available for the 8051 family, Comsol have collected all the data necessary for you to select a CPU from over 300 different chips from 8 manufacturers. New ones are being added as manufacturers release details. See

At their recent AGM, German FIG Forth-Gesellschaft elected Fred Behringer as Director.

USA News

Phil Koopman, author of the book Stack Computers has published it on-line as a PDF.

To get your own copy, please visit: and select the ".pdf" option in the download table.

Please do NOT redistribute the file to others (although you're welcome to pass along or link to the URL). He needs to track the number of copies in distribution, and the only way to do this is to count the hits.

Issue 106 April


Web Sites

How many people know that there is a Chat Room for Forth in ICQ? This was first announced in Forth News in June 99.

Computer Solutions (Comsol) have added a new resource to their web site for all designers of embedded micro-processors. This is intended to have a European (i.e. non-USA) bias and provide a suitable starting point for locating resources.

Ulrich Hoffman has set up an experimental "Wiki" web site for the exchange of ideas about Forth. Wiki Web Servers allow everyone to change pages and so their content will grow in a collaborative effort.

International FIG have announced a web-based search service for Forth practitioners. Visitors can enter keywords and retrieve details of FIG members operating in that field. International FIG members must remember to enter their own details - it won't be done for you. If you are looking for Forth expertise in the UK, see for a list of training services and contact FIG UK to pass on your requirements to FIG UK members who have registered their availability.

Forth Applications and Utilities

The Open Terminal Architecture project undertaken by Forth Inc and MPE Ltd for Europay International "is in increasing use in Europe. The technology itself has just become an ISO standard". Europay is Europe's largest financial services company.

Elizabeth Rather reports that the hand held package tracking devices used by Federal Express have been programmed in Forth since 1986 and Forth Inc. are currently working on the 3rd generation design.

Database access via SQL is not a common feature in Forth. Here is sample code to access any ODBC database. ODBC-DB.F & ODBC-TEST.F

WinCV is a Windows shareware utility written in Win32Forth. It is a File Manager and Picture Viewer.

A parser that will translate Forth into C can be found at:


To join a project to build a Forth-based operating system, visit ...

VHDL is a language for building chips such as small micro-processors. Don Golding has started a design for a Forth processor and is looking for assistance.

Free Systems

Quartus Forth for the Palm Pilot runs on Unix, Windows, and the Mac OS using the Palm OS Emulator available for all three platforms.

DELTA Forth 1.0 is now available. This is the latest in a series of updates for this Java-based Forth. Help in developing it further is welcome. DELTA Forth was rated 5 stars at SuperShareware ( and Top 25% at JARS ( may download your free copy from

A new release of Ralph Hempel's pbForth for Lego Mindstorms is now available. Download version 1.1.1 from:

Wonyong Koh's hForth is a well-respected ANS Forth for a variety of processors. Now available to suit ZMASM for Z80.

HolonJForth gives a new twist on mixing languages and enables you to write in Forth, use Java libraries and compile to run on a Java Virtual Machine with no performance penalty.

Rick Hohensee has made Linux available on a single floppy with 2 Forths. Look forward to hearing more about this technology.

eForth is now available direct from the web site of Bill Muench, its author.This version includes much material missing from the previous 1997 version.

Commercial Systems

Quartus Forth, well-known for Palm Pilot, is available for the Royal da Vinci PDA. It was previewed in the November issue of Forth News and is now available from . The free evaluation version can be found at:

iForth is a high-performance 32-bit ANS Forth available for several platforms including Linux and Windows NT. Full details including graphics output are on the web site: . iForth costs 200 Guilders (currently about £56).

Have a look at this page on the same site for 6 examples of classic programs in ANS Forth.

Is VFX the fastest Forth yet? Published benchmarks give 4 - 10 times faster than nearest commercial rival and within 25% of hand-crafted assembler.You can now try out MPE's performance claims for free by downloading the very latest ProForth for Windows with the VFX code generator


Elizabeth Rather reports on comp.lang.forth that the RTX2000 is only available in the RAD-hard (and very expensive) version. "But it is certainly alive in that niche market, and getting some new design wins for space & defense use. We are in the process of adapting our SwiftX cross-compilers to support it... Shboom survives as the PSC1000, and appears to be thriving thanks to being promoted as a 'Java chip'."

A variant of Chuck Moore's P32 has been designed expressly for packet switching. The P32 router was designed to route packets and provide protocol translation on multiple gigabit data streams on a chip that could be mass produced for around $1.

Jeff Fox has re-organised his UltraTechnology web site and added new material. Current work focusses on the F21d which is performing slightly better than expected.

Issue 105 January



EuroFORTH 99

The 15th euroFORTH conference on the FORTH programming language and FORTH processors was held on September 17 - 20, 1999 at the Institute for Informatics and Automation of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, Russia

Reuben Thomas of the Computer Laboratory at Cambridge University presented a paper called "Machine Forth for the ARM processor". The paper is available on the WWW and although MF has not won Reuben over entirely, he writes:

"MF's explicit use of an address latch is simple way to improve the performance of small Forth compilers that cannot afford to have an optimiser. Even more interesting are its non-destructive conditionals, which could easily be used in traditional Forth.

In conclusion, Machine Forth's judicious mixture of novelty and classic simplicity merit careful study, though I for one will not be abandoning the traditional combination of Forth and assembler in its favour."


Electronic Design Online magazine, Nov 99 issue, includes an article by Tom Napier on the role of Forth in embedded systems. This is available online at


Dutch Web Site

Willem Ouwerkerk invites visitors to the new web site for the Dutch Forth Users Group.

Web Ring

The Web Ring approach to linking web-sites with a common interest appeared in the June issue of Forth News. By mid-October, 25 Forth sites had joined the Forth Web Ring including FIG UK, FIG Russia and International FIG.


LEGO Robot Book Boosts Forth

Howard Shapiro reports that he came across a book recently with an unexpected reference to Forth.

The Unofficial Guide to LEGO MINDSTORMS Robots by Jonathan Knudsen
(O'Reilly & Associates,1999, ISBN 1-56592-692-7).

This features a chapter on Ralph Hempel's pbFORTH for the LEGO system, with a brief introduction to Forth.



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