Wordle recreated in Pascal for the Multics operating system

Why? I had motivation problems and wanted to kill a few hours, says dev

Though the Wordle fad appears to be fading, engineers continue to find new and exciting places to port the game. Today we present a version using Pascal on Multics.

For those either not of a certain age, or unaware of historical operating systems, Multics (Multiplexed Information and Computing Service) dates back more than half a century (development of the OS began in the 1960s) and is a time-sharing operating system.

It is an undeniably neat system, with a modular architecture supporting both scalability and high availability. Resources could be added while the service was running, and security was front and center with innovations such as file level access controls.

For all the features plucked from the future, Multics was also chunky for its time and could not be called a roaring success. It continues to influence modern operating systems, however. Although the last Multics system was deactivated in 2000, the OS is available as open source and still has followers.

While Multics has many features that are taken for granted today, there was a missing piece: a clone of the Wordle puzzle game. Hence "Wordmul".

Before The Reg even gets to the "how", we must first deal with the "why?"

"Well, the slightly non-serious answer is 'I had motivation problems on the RTOS stuff I had planned to work on, and wanted to kill a few hours'," the developer responsible told The Register.

"The more serious one is that I actually think Multics was a great system and I had a lot of fun playing with it. I spent a lot of quality time with Stratus VOS a few years ago, which is basically modernized Multics for fault-tolerant servers, and going back to the great granddaddy OS was fun. It's also nice sometimes to do a project in a limited environment as a challenge to myself."

The road to Wordmul had a few bumps, some due to Multics and others due to Pascal, the language in which the program was written. "Multics, while a very clear ancestor of VOS, is less documented, less functional, and less friendly than VOS could dream of being," the developer wrote.

"That being said, by the standards of a late '60s OS – the compare here would be very early TSO or CMS and almost nothing else – it absolutely smells like roses. Its error messages are generally good, it has a real hierarchical FS with stream and record files…

"And it overall does not suck to use."

As for Pascal, issues with the reading of arbitrary files were dealt with thanks to extensions in Multics, but further hurdles lay in wait. "I was vaguely annoyed to find that the Pascal compiler breaks in unintuitive ways with over 1,000 locals – something I learned when I tried specifying the valid-words list as a Pascal include file to avoid having to read the documentation on Multics Pascal's file I/O functionality."

Compiler funnies aside ("One is that ReadLn on this Pascal compiler actually can't handle strings"), it's an impressively compact bit of code.

Better still, it won't spam your social media feeds with scores. ®

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