Application Briefs

These are short descriptions of some of the Forth applications we have developed and supported over the years.

Also see our featured Forth applications and partial list of customers.

AVCO/Textron Systems

Building automation and auxiliary services for King Khaled International Airport (Saudi Arabia). System contains nine PDP 11/44s, 378 8086-based computers, and 320 8085-based security processors, collectively monitoring and controlling over 36,000 points.

Eastman Kodak Company

Quality control system monitoring photographic film density. Includes film motion control, automatic recognition of film density steps, and custom IEEE-488 bus interface.

NASA — Goddard Space Flight Center

firmware developers, aerospace applications, custom programming

Robot Arm Simulator
Control of 50-foot long, six-joint arm for Space Shuttle simulator. Extensive math routines convert two three-axis joystick commands into required joint velocities in six different co-ordinate systems. Entire system developed by one programmer in five weeks.

Essential Services Node
Multitasking operating system, Forth language compiler, and libraries for UT69R000 radiation-hardened microprocessor used in Space Shuttle instrumentation.

Small Payload Accomodations Interface Module
Development of the Forth-based Small Payload Accomodations Interface Module (SPAIM), which interfaces the Shuttle Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet (SSBUV) instrument to the Space Shuttle's avionic systems. The SSBUV instrument is used to calibrate ozone-measuring instruments aboard NOAA satellites. (See "Interfacing SSBUV, a Scientific Instrument, to the Space Shuttle" for details.)

Owens-Corning Fiberglas

Process Automation
Owens-Corning has used Forth for many years as the basic firmware in its distributed industrial controllers. These controllers perform a wide variety of functions, managing winders, weighing devices, etc., used in the manufacture of various fiberglas products.

University of Minnesota

Mount Lemmon Observatory
PC-based system for telescope control, data acquisition, data analysis, and graphics display. Includes provision for remote observing, using a custom protocol to multiplex packets from three independent data streams over a single voice-grade circuit.

Federal Express

FedEx SuperTracker - embedded-systems handheld device

FedEx SuperTracker and Enhanced SuperTracker
This familiar, handheld device was programmed in Forth using the chipFORTH™ cross-development system from FORTH, Inc. Its capabilities were unsurpassed by the other available tools of that time. The device made extremely efficient use of the relatively inexpensive hardware and remained in service for about 20 years, through numerous upgrades and enhancements. An estimated 50–60,000 of these devices were deployed. In 1998, FedEx upgraded their development system to FORTH, Inc.'s SwiftX™ for embedded systems.

General Dynamics SATCOM

Satellite Tracking Receivers and Antenna Controllers
Software for custom satellite tracking receivers and antenna controllers. Includes frequency synthesizer control, remote command port, vacuum-fluorescent graphics display.

Europay International

smart card developers and embedded firmware

An article about Open Terminal Architecture (OTA) appeared in Forth Dimensions. Download the five-page reprint (245 Kb, PDF) or ask us to mail a reprint to you!

Smart cards and Open Terminal Architecture (OTA)
The SwiftX Interactive Development Environment was used to develop terminal firmware for Europay International's Open Terminal Architecture (OTA) used in smart-card point-of-sale terminals. Processor-independent byte-codes, or tokens (conceptually similar to Java implementations), were devised to make smart-card payment applications portable across a broad disparity of terminal hardware. Also see Edward K. Conklin's "Smart Cards and the Open Terminal Architecture," Dr. Dobb's Journal (Dec. 1998).

Commercial Food Processor — extruder

One company has implemented neural networks to tune control loops in a complex extruder application in a food processing plant. The system architecture involves a Modicon AT-984 plugged into a FactoryMate bus, the reverse of the more customary method of plugging a DOS co-processor into a PLC rack.

Commercial Food Processor — precise measures

A food processing company used EXPRESS as a subsystem in a new processing line featuring MODICON PLCs and a large DCS. The Forth-based system is responsible for handling the "minor ingredients" such as seasonings. Dispensing minor ingredients is often a troublesome component of food processing systems, because the quantities are small and must be metered out quite accurately. The Forth software was selected for this critical function because of its precise timing capabilities.