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Revision Date Username Comment
1101 Dec 2014 - 15:50ThomasMisa 
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903 Oct 2013 - 15:40norqu036? 
819 Apr 2013 - 11:25NicLewis 
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You are here: UMWiki>CBI_ComputerSecurity Web>Systems>SystemsB5000 (01 Dec 2014, ThomasMisa)

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B 5000


The B 5000 was the first large-scale computer system developed by the Burroughs Corporation, and is considered one of the "third generation" computers. Released in 1961, the B 5000 was a large mainframe system optimized for running ALGOL 60.(1) The B 5000 architecture and instruction set were developed taking the needs of software into consideration, an unusual level of integration between hardware and software design. Among the B5000's unique features were hardware designed to support high-level programming languages such as ALGOL and COBOL, and an attempt at creating a secure architecture that prohibited unauthorized access of data, or disruptions to system operations.(2)(3)(4)

Intended for scientific and commercial users, the B 5000 had a fast compiler, able to compile a program as fast as its readers could import punch cards. This was due to Burroughs' implementation of ALGOL allowing for a one-pass compiler, which needed to read the source code only once before compiling the program.(5)(6)(7) For added security, the B 5000 used a system of flags to distinguish code and data. The system hardware "would not execute data or alter code without first having explicitly changed the flag," which only privileged processes could do. While the B 5000 architecture was not carried over into the B 6500 or subsequent systems, the B 5000 was highly influential on future system architecture design.(8)

Additional Resources:

  • lock B5000Characteristics.pdf Chapter 2, Early Descriptor Architectures: Henry M. Levy, Compatibility-Based Computer Systems, Digital Press (1984). (Login required)


1 , 8 : lock Alastair J. W. Mayer, "The Architecture of the Burroughs B5000: 20 Years Later and Still Ahead of the Times?" SIGARCH Computer Architecture News 10 no. 4 (ACM, June 1982): 3-10 (Login required)

2 : lock Elliott I. Organick, Computer System Organization: The B5700/B6700 Series, (New York: Academic Press, 1973), vii-viii, 1-2. (Login required)

3 : http://purl.umn.edu/107105 - Burroughs B 5000 Conference (1985) CBI oral history 98, pp. 9, 17.

4 , 7 : http://www.cs.virginia.edu/brochure/images/manuals/b5000/brochure/b5000_broch.html

5 : http://purl.umn.edu/107105 - Burroughs B 5000 Conference (1985) CBI oral history 98, p. 26.

6 : lock William Lonergan, and Paul King, "Design of the B 5000 System," Annals of the History of Computing 9, no. 1 (1987), 16 (Login required)

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