Honeywell 800

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The Datamatic Division of Honeywell announced the H-800 electronic computer in 1958. The first installation occurred in 1960. A total of 89 were delivered. The H-800 design was part of a family of 48-bit word, three-address instruction format computers that descended from the Datamatic 1000, which was a joint Honeywell and Raytheon project started in 1955. The 1800 and 1800-II were follow-on designs to the H-800.[1][2]


The basic unit of data was a word of 48 bits. This could be divided in several ways:

  • 8 Alphanumeric characters of 6 bits each
  • 12 Hexadecimal or Decimal characters of 4 bits each
  • 16 Octal characters of 3 bits each
  • An instruction with four components of 12 bits each: the operation to be performed, and three memory addresses.


The basic system had:

  • A Central Processor with 16 controlled input/output trunks
  • An Input/Output Control Center (IOCC) with control functions for:
    • A card reader/punch,
    • A high-speed printer
    • Up to 4 magnetic tape units
  • A Control Memory of 256 special registers of 16 bits each
  • A Main memory containing 4 banks of 2048 words.[3]

Extra peripherals could be added running through additional controllers with a theoretical possibility of 56 tape units.[3]

Up to 12 more main memory banks could be added.[3]

A random access disc system with a capacity of 800 million alphanumeric characters could be added.[3]

Multiprogram control allowed up to 8 programs to be sharing the machine, each with its own set of 32 special registers.[3]

A Floating-Point Unit was optionally available. The 48 bit word allowed a seven bit exponent and 40 bit mantissa. So numbers between 10−78 and 10+76 were possible and precision was 12 decimal places.[3] If the customer did not buy the floating point unit, then floating point commands were implemented by software simulation.

Peripheral devices included: high-density magnetic tapes, high-speed line printers, fast card and paper tape readers and punches to high-capacity random access magnetic disc memories, optical scanners, self-correcting orthoscanners and data communications devices.[3]


Available software included:

  • ARGUS (Automatic Routine Generating and Updating System), an assembly language.
  • FACT (Fully Automatic Compiling Technique), a business compiler.
  • PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique), a project management system.
  • COP (Computer Optimization Package), a program testing system.
  • COBOL (COmmon Business Oriented Language), a compiler for the well known business programming language.[3]
  • FORTRAN (FORmula TRANslator), a compiler, runtime package, and "load and go" OS for the scientific language compiler.


  1. ^ Mark Smotherman Paper about the Honeywell 800
  2. ^ The author was programming this machine from January to August 1966 for the Eastern Electricity Board. Staff from General Electric Company plc and South Eastern Electricity Board attended the same courses.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Company Sales Manual for the Honeywell 1800

Further reading[edit]

Jane King, William A. Shelly, "A Family History of Honeywell's Large-Scale Computer Systems," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 19, no. 4, pp. 42–46, Oct.-Dec. 1997, doi:10.1109/85.627898

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