PA-RISC information - since 1999

No RISC No Fun

OpenPA is an independent technical resource on PA-RISC and Itanium workstations, servers, architecture and operating systems. OpenPA has been online since 1999.

The PA-RISC information is structured in three main sections with almost 100 subpages that have been compiled over two decades:

  1. Design: The computers covered by this site are based on HP PA-RISC architecture and processors from the 1980s to 2000s. Most of the chipsets and system designs used were custom HP for its PA-RISC servers and workstations.
  2. Computers: Many different PA-RISC computers were produced between the 1980s and 2000s, the majority from HP in its HP 9000 range of servers, workstations and mainframes. Over 245 systems covered on OpenPA.
  3. Software: A broad range of Unix operating systems has been available over the years for PA-RISC workstations and servers, from HP-UX to Mach and BSD, with fifteen operating systems detailed here.

The information is based mostly on primary sources such as HP and PA-RISC technical reference manuals, handbooks and architecture documents. It has been correlated with secondary sources like articles, news releases and journals, most of which disappeared in the 2010s. OpenPA is independent of and does not represent HP in any way.

The OpenPA history books since 1999

By Paul Weissmann on 5 December 2021

Much has happened since the founding years of this PA-RISC information site in long-gone 1999, so some historiography on OpenPA is in order, more detailed in About OpenPA.

It all started in 1999 when second-hand PA-RISC systems became affordable after being phased out for Windows NT or Linux. Not much PA-RISC information was easily available on the web then — Google just started and Wikipedia did not exist yet. The most active phase of OpenPA were the years of 1999-2004 with most original content written.

OpenPA in 2001 OpenPA in 2002 OpenPA in 2004

OpenPA updates tapered off between 2005-2008 with a spike in 2008 producing lots of new content on 64-bit PA-RISC. Update frequency and additions stalled considerably between 2009 and 2017 with mostly low-intensity maintenance and reordering content. Beginning in 2018, many pages were updated, much outdated text rewritten and some bad ideas from previous decades reversed.

OpenPA in 2006 OpenPA in 2012 OpenPA in 2021

There have been over 120 news entries for major changes to OpenPA over the years:

Year Changes Content Backend
1999 Started PA-RISC overview from the 90s Frames, dark-mode
2000 7 HP 9000 700s, operating systems Hosted at sunhelp
2001 7 32-bit processors, hardware, more systems mickey@ appeared
2002 21 BSD, A/B/C/J lettered-systems, some 64-bit, X-Terms Renamed, own server
2003 30 Complete 64-bit, four-digit systems, 3rd-party, more OS
2004 14 Benchmarks, FOCUS, graphics, SCSI, architecture Complete revamp, CSS
2005 3 Small updates
2006 4 Final PA-RISCs - Mako, C8000 Print version
2007 3 History, small updates Limited paperback
2008 18 Mainframe/Cell, Itanium, 1980s PA-RISC, others
2009 3 CPU and I/O architecture, much cleanup 10y anniversary
2010 2 T-Class, chipsets
2012 1 Print version update
2014 1 Cleanup and housekeeping
2015 2 Handle disappearing sources and documents
2016 6 Restructure chipset content, timeline, cleanup
2018 3 PA-RISC story, OS updates, disappearing sources Cloud move
2019 20y anniversary
2020 3 Agilent PA-RISC, many systems updates
2021 2 Content mopup, OS history Backend mopup

PA-RISC Operating Systems History

By Paul Weissmann on 17 March 2021

Operating systems for PA-RISC computers have a history that started in the 1980s in parallel to the release of early PA-RISC servers and computers. Many Unix and similar operating systems were made available, first the early commercial HP-UX PA-RISC releases, followed by a plethora of research and development projects centered around the Mach microkernel and BSD Unix versions.

The heydays of PA-RISC operating systems were certainly in the 1990s with broad support and variety in concepts. During the early 2000s with the roadmap to 64-bit computing fulfilled, supported peaked in the commercial HP-UX 11.* releases. Significant support in mainstream open source projects got traction in the early to mid-2000s, with solid Linux and OpenBSD support in that decade.

The page on PA-RISC Operating Systems History with the detailed yearly timeline and content on individual projects history has been split from the main PA-RISC Operating Systems page.

Slight mop-up — into the 4th decade

By Paul Weissmann on 14 March 2021

The OpenPA frontend and backend have been cleaned and streamlined, plus the design was adjusted slightly for the 21st century.

OpenPA has witnessed four decades now, beginning with the birth of this site at the tail-end of the wild 1990s. The intense 2000s were the most active OpenPA years, where most of the PA-RISC content was written. Interest in PA-RISC and generally in non-mainstream IT platforms tapered off in the 2010s — making OpenPA rather dormant in that decade, with a few ideas left for the fourth decade of the 2020s:

  • Superdome pages, focused on the PA-RISC versions
  • rp74* and rp84* server system pages
  • Proper article on PA-RISC operating systems history
  • More Itanium rx computer pages
  • Article on the PA-RISC to Itanium transition
  • More information on PA-RISC in non-HP computers

We will see if any of that will be realized.

Previous news entries

Download the OpenPA Book of PA-RISC (PDF, 991 KB, 350 pages, 2022, V2.8)
Includes all content from the OpenPA Winter 2021/2022 online version.

RSS feed OpenPA RSS feed with all news.

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