Forth News 2001

Issue 114 November


Charles Moore Interview

The "Slashdot Interview" announced in the previous Forth News has taken place; see the report by George Morrison elsewhere in this issue.

Commercial Systems

Benchmark Corrections

In the previous issue, we exchanged the results for iForth and SwiftForth. The correct version is given below.

MPE's VFX Forth for Windows build 3.40.0685 is available for download. A summary of the optimisation results was posted by Stephen Pelc. Primitives using no extensions, test time (ms) including overhead for VFX3.4, iForth and SF2.0

  1. Eratosthenes sieve
  2. Fibonacci recursion
  3. Hoare's quick sort
  4. Generate random numbers
  5. LZ77 Comp.
  6. Dhrystone

Total time in msecs:

Non-commercial Systems

Tiny Open Firmware

Brad Eckert, author of the free Tiny Open Firmware is offering more demonstration hardware for Tiny Open Firmware (see the article in this issue). Tokenized boot code on expansion modules runs on both 8051 and 68331 platforms. At startup, the board (whichever processor it's based on) evaluates tokenized driver code resident in a serial EEPROM in each module. Tokenized code gets translated to native machine code and linked into the application at startup.

Forth now available for .NET

The Forth language is now available for the .NET platform. Valer Bocan (currently completing a PhD at Timisoara, Romania) has released his Delta Forth compiler.

.NET requires Microsoft's .NET framework to be installed and generates .NET executables.

FICL Upgrade

FICL release 3.01 is now available for download. This release includes contributions and bug fixes. Thanks to Larry Hastings for the optional FILE wordset. Larry also did the very nasty task of moving all of those static pointers into FICL_SYSTEM so that you can create and destroy FICL_SYSTEMs in any order. Ye Xiaofeng contributed a SWIG adaptation for FICL - this generates your wrapper code for you automatically, saving your wrists. Thanks also to David McNab and Leonid Rosin for bug fixes.

SourceForge Logo


FIJI, the ForthIsh Java Interpreter, is now a SourceForge project. The current release is 1.2 Beta.


A new release of kForth (Release 9-26-2001) has been announced by Krishna Myneni for Linux and Win32.


This is a new system based on eForth and close to ANS developed by Petrus Prawirodidjojo. Download.

Forth Resources

Forth Books For Courses

"Forth Programmer's Handbook" and "Forth Applications Techniques" are available from Forth Inc. McMaster University, Ontario, have bought 67 copies, presumably to support a new course.

Improved FTRAN

Julian Noble has posted an improved version of FTRAN on his computational methods page under "Forth system and example programs". You can now evaluate an expression interactively as in:

   fvariable x  fvariable y  ok
 3e0 x f!     4e0 y f!  ok
 f$" x*(x^2+y^2)" f. 75.0000  ok

Also included is a limited ability to handle complex variables. The code conforms to ANS Forth and has been tested on Win32Forth v4.2.

Russian FIG

Michael L. Gassanenko reports that a "translate" button has been added to the RuFIG site. This allows you to view the site in English, French or German translation. The quality of translation has "improved from syntactic ramblings to lexical misuse".

Forth Primer

Julian Noble has converted his on-line primer, "A Beginner's Guide to Forth", to HTML format. It now has a hyper-linked table of contents and links to manoeuvre around internally. It now includes a section on actually writing a program, from start to finish (as opposed to defining words that perform simple tasks).

Win32Forth Fan Club

John Peters has launched an on-line fan club for Win32Forth. In addition, John is organising a collaborative project to continue development of Win32Forth, WinView and tools based on it.

FIG UK mailing list

The FIG UK mailing list dedicated to users of the F11-UK processor kit has moved. Previously hosted at Robert Gordon University, Graeme Dunbar has now moved this to the group FIG-Forth-UK hosted at FIG UK is grateful to the university and Graeme Dunbar for providing and maintaining this service since its inception.

Issue 113 September


Application News

Primetime Emmy Engineering Awards for technical achievement included Clairmont Camera of North Hollywood for a series of specialized lenses. The company makes lenses that impart special effects.

For example, the company's Squishy Lens, developed by technician Michael Keesling, is made of a silicon gel and can smear an image. The Squishy Lens has been used in Species II, What Women Want, Three Kings, as well as Star Trek - The Next Generation, The X Men and a handful of commercials.

Mike Keesling writes, "The Squishy Lens was my second big FORTH project using MNI's products. It used a 68HC11, 3 7056 motor drive boards, and an A/D converter board.

The prototype took 6 months to design, including the optical and mechanical design. The software took me about 4 weeks, but 2 of that was tuning up the homing routines and PID coefficients. The code used about 4K of ROM, no floating-point math and less than 32 bytes of RAM.

FIG UK member, Howerd Oakford, has made available on-line, free for non-comercial use. is the latest version of a generic communications protocol debug package supplied by Inventio Software Ltd. It is a DOS-based PC program to analyse, display and create PPP and Internet protocols.

Elizabeth Rather reports NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center is currently using Forth not only on the RTX2010 but also the UT69R000, another RAD-hard space-rated processor for which Forth Inc. developed a version of its SwiftX cross-compiler.

Stephen Pelc of MPE Ltd. discussed the use of Forth in advanced mobile phones and wrote "We did a [games] engine for a mobile phone manufacturer and reduced the size of the games on it by an order of magnitude."


Glen Paling writes, "Andrey Cherezov at his team at has ANS Forth compilers for all Win32 devices including Windows CE. They've devised the compilers so that they're source code compatible on all Win32 devices."

Neal Bridges suggests members check out Kris Johnson's Wiki. It's most heavily used by Quartus Forth developers at present, but there's a section for general Forth material.

Anton Ertl summarised the several places where Forth extensions have been documented:

  1. Peter Knaggs collects suggestions for the next revision of ANS Forth in 2004.
  2. There is also Comus, which tries to collect COMmon USage.
  3. And of course there is Anton's own list of proposals

In answer to a recent newsgroup enquiry, Hans Bezemer directs the newcomer to a 85 page tutorial on the ANS Forth standard.


There's an active Slashdot discussion topic right now about Charles Moore at which begins "Chuck Moore is, among other things, a chip designer. His latest design, the 25x, is based on a 5x5 array of X18 microprocessor cores, and could provide 60,000 MIPS with a production cost of about one dollar. And Moore has the chips to back that up: he's been designing tiny, efficient processors for many years." 322 queries and comments had been listed by 28th August and Charles Moore will answer his selection shortly.

Krishna Myneni has published an example of using Forth for teaching or learning quantum mechanics:

Apart from providing the numerical computations that illustrate various concepts in quantum mechanics, the use of Forth in this instance seems to me to be a neat example of creating a pseudo-language that is natural and well-suited to a specific application.

Public Forth Systems

FIG UK member, Gary Lancaster, has published a new v3.0 of CamelForthfor the Z88. This is a fully ANS-compliant extension of Z80 CamelForth by Bradford J. Rodriguez, with a multitude of extensions for the Z88, an unusual pocket computer.

The new version includes multi-programming support (with simple demo) - a first for the Z88 - and a 6-8 improvement in interpreting source from files.

Tom Zimmer has modified Win32Forth following a suggestion from Richard Adams, with code provided by Bernd Paysan, to allow filenames in Win32Forth to contain spaces.

Jih-tung Pai has published a new version of ppForth, a Forth for the Palm Pilot, including view words to look up source and the ability to produce standalone applications with resources.

Brad Eckert reports that a new demonstration system for Tiny Open Firmware is available.

Self-installing peripherals really need to be seen in action to be appreciated. The demonstration consists of an 8031 board and one or more 20x4 LCD modules. The CPU monitors the serial expansion bus to allow hot plugging. Add or remove a module, and the system reboots and reconfigures itself in a couple of seconds.

Chuck Moore's ColorForth is now publicly available and has generated much interest. In addition to his personal site, reported in the July issue, he is now providing a new site, dedicated to ColorForth.

Terry Loveall has assembled a web page for resources on Chuck Moore's ColorForth providing a single starting point for all ColorForth sources, binaries, updates and applications.

Jeff Fox has provided a mailing list for ColorForth.

John Sadler announces that Ficl release 3.00 is now available for download. Release 3.00 changes the programming interface to permit multiple Ficl systems to coexist in a single address space. Thanks to Orjan Gustaffson for contributing these mods.

There are also bug fixes for 64-bit compatibility (thanks to DCS (again) and the FreeBSD mob), and fixes for various bugs in the debugger, parse-steps, and OO support. The linux makefile and the tar.gz package has been tested on the sourceforge compile farm, so it should be trouble free.

Marcel Hendrix, author of the high-performance iForth, has made the manual and the glossary available on-line. Comments (by e-mail) would be appreciated.

Commercial Forth Systems

Triangle Digital Systems have now approved the IBM Microdrive for use with their TDS2020F + TDS2020CM2 Data Logger Modules. Its one gigabyte capacity is the largest available on the market in the Compact Flash format.

Stephen Pelc reports that VFX Forth for Linux is under development and will be available soon.

MPE's VFX Forth for Windows build 3.40.0685 is available for download, as reported in our July issue. A summary of the optimisation results was posted by Stephen Pelc:

Primitives using no extensions, test time (ms) including overhead for VFX3.4, iForth and SF2.0

  1. Eratosthenes sieve
  2. Fibonacci recursion
  3. Hoare's quick sort
  4. Generate random numbers
  5. LZ77 Comp.
  6. Dhrystone
Total time in msecs:
1,893 for MPE ProForth VFX 3.40.0686
5,445 for SwiftForth 2.00.3
16,103 for iForth by M. Hendrix, v1.12.1121

Issue 112 July



In a discussion on comp.lang.forth Michael Coughlin predicts 64-bit Forths will be needed "sooner than we expect." Elizabeth Rather points out that they're already available. "A 64-bit Forth will hardly ever need double precision for anything! Actually, there are 64-bit Forths on SPARCs."

Ficl V2.06

John Sadler has announced the release of version 2.06 of Ficl, an open source ANS Forth designed to be incorporated into other programs, including (especially) firmware-based systems. Ficl 2.06 is licensed under the terms of the BSD license.


Bill Muench has moved his web site for eForth.

BETA Testers Needed

Gary Chanson is looking for experienced Forth programmers to beta test Quest32. It is "an elaborate 32 bit development system for Windows 2000, Windows NT, and Win9x and is written in a dialect of Forth which is derived from Forth-83 and FIG-Forth."

IRE-2001 Workshop on Java Virtual Machine

A "Workshop on Intermediate Representation Engineering for the Java Virtual Machine" will be held in Orlando, Florida, USA on July 22-25, 2001 at the 5th World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics.

Authors interested in submitting papers should see the workshop web page.


Following the papers published at euroFORTH 2000, a proposal and an implementation is now available from MPE.

Machine Forth and Color Forth

Jeff Fox announced on comp.lang.forth two new list servers for Machine Forth and Color Forth. To subscribe to theselist servers send an email with "subscribe MachineForth" or "subscribe ColorForth" on the first line of the body then reply to the confirmation mail without changes.

"OKAD II is now written in Color Forth and is better than ever. Chuck now has descriptions of basic components in Forth source code and compiles the chip object when moving between the Forth editor and the chip simulator in OKAD, it appears to be instantaneous or at least faster than you can perceive."

ProForth VXF Forth version 3.4

MPE's VFX Forth v3.4 for Windows is now available, it's even faster and with internationalisation support. The price of the standard edition has also been reduced.

The evaluation version of VFX is available as a free download from the MPE website.

"The full system with a short nag screen, no timeout, no kernel sources and no turnkey generation."


After an enquiry on clf about the Forth chip manufactured by the now defunct Novix company, Elizabeth Rather points out that it is still available from Harris as the RTX2000 in RAD-hard versions.

"We have recently done an application for NASA involving its use for an extremely accurate position encoder for a satellite."

Shboom Chip

The ShBoom chip is sold by Patriot as the "Ignite 1". Forth Inc. offer the SwiftX cross-compiler product for it; look for it under its previous name PSC1000.

TPFORTH version 3.2

A new version of TpForth has been released which adds the multi-language support (MLS) and the native code generation (NCG) systems. Free Download.

Forth and Super-scalar processors

In a discussion on clf, Stephen Pelc reported that there is some research going on at York University, UK, by Chris Bailey and others on the use of Forth with Super-scalar processors.

Chuck Moore's Web Site

Chuck Moore, inventor of Forth, has now published his own web site. This features "25x", an array of 25 "X18" microprocessors on a single chip, each running at 2,500 MIPS. The system is designed using Chuck's proprietary tools written in ColorForth.

Issue 111 April



John Hall has revised the FIG web site and has organised a new searchable database of Forth publications. There are 138 entries so far and he is looking for help particularly from authors who have articles in electronic format.


In a posting to comp.lang.forth(c.l.f.), Albert Lee Mitchell states:

"We are on the cusp of releasing our first family of tethered Forths, the 8051 family, under the LGPL license. Anyone interested in being a Beta tester?"

From the web page at

At the moment we are considering a port of amrFORTH to the Motorola 6805/6808 microcontrollers if the demand is sufficient.


Don Golding of Angelus Research announced on c.l.f.:

We are announcing the introduction of our new personal robot - Bugsy AI. It uses our real-time Artificial Intelligence control system and of course is a Forth based machine.


An article by FIG UK member Julian Noble on jump tables and finite state machines will be published in June 2001 issue of ACM/SIGPLAN's magazine.


MegaWolf Inc has bought the MacForth products from Forth Inc. MegaWolf produces hardware and software for the Macintosh and is a long time user of MacForth. They plan to continue the long history of MacForth, starting with a free upgrade of PMF for existing users. Press Release


Guido Draheim has announced the release of beta release of vesion 0.30 of the Portable Forth Environment (pfe). Download


Anton Ertl has begun work on a peephole optimiser for GForth. As a first step he has implemented direct threaded code.


A discussion on c.l.f. about the treatment of ascii chars in Forth (e.g. are they signed or unsigned) included the following from Stephen Pelc of MPE

The ANS TC has discussed this, and I will put up the latest versions of the localisation and wide character papers on the MPE web site this week.


The 17th euroForth conference on the Forth programming environment and Forth processors is being held on November 23 - 26, 2001 at Schloss Dagstuhl, near Saarbrücken, Germany.

Schloss Dagstuhl


Forth Inc has moved to:
    5155 W. Rosecrans Ave.  #1018
    Los Angeles, CA  90250
    +1 310.491.3356 voice
    +1 310.978.9454 fax

The new location provides improved Internet service (the web site is moving in-house, with a T3 line), better training facilities and other efficiencies.

Issue 110 January



Chuck Moore

The Annual Forth Day meeting of the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Forth Interest Group was held on 11/11/00. It ended with Chuck Moore's traditional Fireside Chat and Jeff Fox has posted a transcript

Malcolm Bugler

Malcolm Bugler is MD of Malvatronics Ltd and organiser of the recent euroFORTH 2000. He is off to work in the USA on a four year contract but will continue to operate Malvatronics.

Malcolm says "As I am actually moving to Rochester in New York state, it may be that I am able to resurrect the Rochester Forth conference. However, this would depend on getting sufficient support for possible US delegates."

Hans Nordstrom

Hans, one of our Swedish members, has published comprehensive glossaries (in English) for both Pygmy and Quartus Forth. These are on his web site along with some interesting biography at

Commercial Systems

PROFORTH Version 3.22

MPE has released version 3.22 of ProForth VFX for Windows. Two major new features, are user programmable Studio IDE and the new DFX debugger. Both are supplied with source code in all versions.

Full details and a 30 day evaluation version are available

SWIFTX Version 3.0

FORTH Inc. has announced the release of version 3.0 of the SwiftX line of cross-compilers which now have smaller, faster code and enhanced project management features.The price has dropped too!


Quartus Forth

New for the Quartus Forth on-board Forth compiler for the Palm OS are MathLib and NewFloatManager functions.

This enhancement allows your apps to go beyond the single-precision floating-point routines built into the Quartus Forth compiler, and make use of full IEEE double-precision calculations. Details


After discussion on comp.lang.forth about Linux in a wrist-watch, Elizabeth Rather pointed out one of the products from WearLogic:

"their 'wallet' is based on an AVR 8515 (soon to be upgraded to a Mega103) programmed in Forth (using SwiftX)."

Free Systems


The full Java source code for DELTA Forth - known for its platform independence - has been released. It is now free of charge and you may download your copy.

Included is an algebraic to RPN converter that is able to generate Forth code for solving expressions.

Ficl release 2.04

Ficl (Forth inspired command language) version 2.04 is now available

Ficl is a lightweight, efficient language designed to be incorporated into other programs, including (especially) firmware based systems.

GFORTH version 0.5.0

Anton Ertl has released Gforth 0.5.0 (source distribution)

Gforth is a fast and portable implementation of the ANS Forth language and runs under Unix, Win95, OS/2, and DOS and should not be hard to port to other systems supported by GCC.

Examples of good documentation encouraging people to explore Forth are rare, so especially good to hear that the manual has been greatly improved, thanks mostly to FIG UK member Neal Crook.


kForth for Windows (95/98/NT) has been rebuilt using the free Cygwin development tools for Windows

The new version will allow anyone to modify and rebuild the executable using the Cygwin tools.

LIB4TH Forth as a DLL

Peter Recktenwald has announced the first working version ( 0.0.51) of "lib4th". Documentation and source code are available

Lib4th is an ANS compliant Forth kernel supplied as a linux/ELF dll for 2.2.14+ (2.2 versions only) kernel and i586+/k6+ cpu-s.

Peter would welcome any comments or suggestions.

Camel Forth for the Z80, Z180 & Rabbit 2000

Douglas Beattie has ported Camel Forth to the Rabbit 2000 processor.

"The Rabbit_2000 is a highly-integrated microcontroller based on the instruction set and CPU model of the Zilog Z180. It is a new architecture with superior execution times, optimized for embedded applications, and rich in peripheral functions. "

Free download

StrongForth version 0.03

Stephan Becher has made version 0.03 of Strong Forth available. StrongForth uses "static type-checking and object overloading."

System Extensions and Utilities

CTRAN Formula to code translator

Julian Noble announced on comp.lang.forth that the next version of his 4-function formula to code translator is now available:

"The chief virtue is readability and ease of creation".

Win32Forth toolset

Jos van der Ven offers a toolset for Win32Forth users. Included are over 2000 error-codes for Windows.

Forth Hardware

Richard Westmoreland has added a discussion board to his web site devoted to Forth hardware. "Feel free to post at" he writes.


Forth in schools

Martin Bitter (German FIG) provides tuition in Forth-controlled robots at a local Hauptschule (i.e. for least able 20%). His team won 4th prize out of about 30 in a LEGO-RCX competition.

PbForth for the Lego MindStorm

Ralph Hempel's pbForth appeared in a November issue of Wired magazine on the dramatic success of Lego's MINDSTORM.


Forth Application Techniques

Forth Inc has announced the publication of a book on Forth Application Techniques. This is an introductory, tutorial on Forth which can be ordered from: or

See the review in this issue.

Extreme Mindstorms: an Advanced Guide to Lego Mindstorms

This is a new book on Lego Mindstorms with two chapters by Ralph Hempel on pbForth, his Forth for the LEGO Robotics Discovery Kit. This book is now available from Amazon: A review will appear in the March issue of Forthwrite.

** ANS Forth **

Anton Ertl has a web page at which discusses proposals for the next ANS Forth. He is seeking comments, new proposals, agreement (and disagreement too.)Solutions proposed include:

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