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Introducing Darkstar: A Xerox Star Emulator #VintageComputing #Xerox #Emulation

Via libingcomputers.org: Josh Dersch writes about research into the Xerox 8010 Information System (codenamed “Dandelion” during development) and commonly referred to as the Star. The Star was envisioned as center point of the office of the future, combining high-resolution graphics with the now-familiar mouse, Ethernet networking for sharing and collaborating, and Xerox’s Laser Printer technology for faithful “WYSIWYG” document reproduction. A revolutionary system when most everyone else was using text based systems.

Josh goes into detail in his article about the hardware which required emulating, no easy task given functions were wired on circuit boards with dozens of chips each.

One of the major issues I was confronted with nearly immediately when writing the CP emulation was one of fidelity: how faithful to the hardware does this emulation need to be?

The result is an excellent emulator which Josh named Darkstar.

Darkstar is available for download on this Github site and is open source under the BSD 2-Clause license.  It runs on Windows and on Unix systems using the Mono runtime.  It is still very much a work in progress.  Feedback, bug reports, and contributions are always welcome.

You’ve downloaded and installed Darkstar and have perused the documentation – now what?  Darkstar doesn’t come with any Xerox software, but pre-built hard disk images are available on Bitsavers (and for the more adventurous among you, piles of floppy disk images are available if you want to install something yourself).  Grab http://bitsavers.org/bits/Xerox/8010/8010_hd_images.zip — this contains hard disk images for Viewpoint 2.0, XDE 5.0, and The Harmony release of Interlisp-D.

You’ll probably want to start with Viewpoint; it’s the crowning achievement of the Star and it invented the desktop metaphor, with icons representing documents and folders.

Read up here for the full article including history, emulation strategies, and especially what to set the date to so the software doesn’t get deactivated by 30 year old ambitious copy protection.


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