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BDS C (or the BD Software C Compiler) is a compiler for a sizeable subset of the C programming language, that ran on and generated code for the Intel 8080 and Zilog Z80 processors. It was written by Leor Zolman and first released in 1979 when he was 20 years old. "BDS" stood for "Brain Damage Software".
BDS C was very popular and influential among CP/M users and developers in the 8-bit microcomputer era. It ran much faster and was more convenient to use than other Z80-hosted compilers of the time. It was possible to run BDS C on single-floppy machines with as little as 30K of RAM - something of a minor miracle by comparison to most other commercial compilers which required many passes and the writing of intermediate files to disk. Around 75,000 copies were sold, including a stripped down Japanese incarnation.
A number of important commercial CP/M products were written in the BDS C subset of the C language, including Mince and Scribble from Mark of the Unicorn, and most of the software in the Perfect Software suite including Perfect Writer, PerfectCalc, PerfectSpeller and PerfectFiler (which suite was bundled with the Kaypro).
There was also a significant subset of the Unix system written in about 1980, called MARC (Machine Assisted Resource Coordinator). This effort resembled the Linux effort of today, in some ways. Unfortunately MARC's author, Ed Ziemba, perished in a snorkeling accident before he could complete the project.
In 2002, with its commercial viability long in the past, Leor Zolman released BDS C's source code into the public domain, thus making it free software. Written in 8080 assembly language, the code is now mostly of historical rather than practical interest, but it is interesting to peruse for anyone wishing to see how sizeable programs for small computers were written in those days.
- BD Software download page
- MUF Mastery - historical note about Leor Zolman and BDS C
- Interview with Leor Zolman (Alternate URL)
- BDS C Users Group
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