TRON project

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TRON (acronym for The Real-time Operating system Nucleus) is an open architecture real-time operating system kernel design. The project was started by Professor Dr. Ken Sakamura of the University of Tokyo in 1984. The project's goal is to create an ideal computer architecture and network, to provide for all of society's needs.[1]

The Industrial TRON (ITRON) derivative was one of the world's most used operating systems in 2003,[2] being present in billions of electronic devices such as mobile phones, appliances and even cars.[3] Although mainly used by Japanese companies, it garnered interest worldwide.[3] However, a dearth of quality English documentation was said to hinder its broader adoption.[4]

The TRON project was integrated into T-Engine Forum in 2010.[5] Today, it is supported by popular Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) libraries such as wolfSSL.[6]


TRON does not specify the source code for the kernel, but instead is a "set of interfaces and design guidelines"[7] for creating the kernel. This allows different companies to create their own versions of TRON, based on the specifications, which can be suited for different microprocessors.

While the specification of TRON is publicly available, implementations can be proprietary at the discretion of the implementer.


The TRON framework defines a complete architecture for the different computing units:

  • ITRON (Industrial TRON): an architecture for real-time operating systems for embedded systems; this is the most popular use of the TRON architecture
  • BTRON (Business TRON): for personal computers, workstations, PDAs, mainly as the human–machine interface in networks based on the TRON architecture
  • CTRON (Central and Communications TRON): for mainframe computers, digital switching equipment
  • MTRON (Macro TRON): for intercommunication between the different TRON components.
  • STRON (Silicon TRON): hardware implementation of a real-time kernel.[8]

Character encoding[edit]


In 1984, the TRON project was officially launched. In 1985, NEC announced the first ITRON implementation based on the ITRON/86 specification. In 1986, the TRON Kyogikai (unincorporated TRON Association) was established, Hitachi announced its ITRON implementation based on the ITRON/68K specification, and the first TRON project symposium is held. In 1987, Fujitsu announced an ITRON implementation based on the ITRON/MMU specification, Mitsubishi Electric announced an ITRON implementation based on the ITRON/32 specification, and Hitachi introduced the Gmicro/200 32-bit microprocessor[11] based on the TRON VLSI CPU specification.

In 2004, the governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara mentioned "TRON was once killed by the former Minister of International Trade and Industry, Ryutaro Hashimoto, because he was at that time under the pressure of United States."[12] This story is supported by an article on a website dedicated to the TRON Project,[13] citing Microsoft's lobbying against it. The result was the threat of a Super-301 (complete stop of import based on section 301 of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988) against everything related to TRON, including products from the companies selling computers running TRON OS variants. This led to many companies dropping TRON in fear to lose the possibility to export to the United States.[14] According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, from the point of view of the United States trade officials in the 80s and early 90s, the TRON project was seen as a plot created by Japanese bureaucrats to "control the world" and a potential threat to American dominance in computer technology.[15]

On 10 November 2017, TRON Forum, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, which has been maintaining the TRON Project since 2010, has agreed with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, headquartered in the US, to transfer ownership of TRON µT-Kernel 2.0, the most recent version of ITRON, for free.[16] Stephen Dukes, Standards Committee, vice chair, IEEE Consumer Electronics Society said that IEEE will "accelerate standards development and streamline global distribution" through the agreement. By the agreement, TRON Forum has become an IP licensee of embedded TRON.


The TRON project was administered by the TRON Association. It was integrated into T-Engine Forum in 2010 and subsequently the TRON project activities have been taken over and continued by the forum.[5] As of 10 November 2017, TRON µT-Kernel 2.0 is jointly managed by the IEEE and the Forum.


T-Engine Forum is a non-profit organization which develops open specifications for ITRON, T-Kernel, and ubiquitous ID architecture.[17][18] The chair of T-Engine Forum is Dr. Ken Sakamura. In July 2011, there were 266 members in T-Engine forum. Executive committee members includes top Japanese giants like Fujitsu, Hitachi, NTT DoCoMo, and Denso. A-level members who are involved in design and development of specifications for T-Engine and T-Kernel, or of Ubiquitous ID technology include companies such as eSOL, NEC and Yamaha Corporation. B-level members who are involved in development of product using T-Engine specification and T-Kernel include companies like ARM, Freescale, MIPS Technologies, Mitsubishi, Robert Bosch GmbH, Sony Corporation, Toshiba, and Xilinx. The supporting members and academic members involved with the forum include many universities such as University of Tokyo in Japan and Dalian Maritime University in China.[19][2]


The MicroScript programming language is a graphically-oriented, high-level programming language created by Personal Media Corporation for TRON. It is similar to Apple Computer's HyperTalk. It is intended mainly for end users with little or no programming experience, yet is also used as a development tool by professional BTRON programmers to port software between TRON variants, and to easily and quickly write device drivers for hardware devices. MicroScript is based on, and makes extensive use of, the TRON Basic Text Editor and Basic Figure Editor.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The TRON Project" (PDF). TRON Association. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 July 2010. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  2. ^ a b Krikke, Jan (15 October 2003). "The Most Popular Operating System in the World". LinuxInsider.
  3. ^ a b "Japan's Homegrown Operating System". Science and Technology. Retrieved 9 June 2010.
  4. ^ "TRON's No Failure". TRON Web.
  5. ^ a b "The name of T-Engine Forum was changed to TRON Forum".
  6. ^ "wolfSSL + Micro-T Kernel, TRON, T-Engine". wolfSSL. 24 April 2017. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  7. ^ "What TRON Stands for".
  8. ^ Nakano, T.; Utama, A.; Mitsuyoshi, I.; Shiomi, A.; Imai, M. (28 November – 2 December 1995). Hardware Implementation of a Real-Time Operating System. Tokyo, Japan. pp. 34–42.
  9. ^ "Character Set List". Retrieved 7 November 2009.
  10. ^ "TRON code website". Retrieved 7 November 2009.
  11. ^ Inayoshi, H.; Kawasaki, I.; Nishimukai, T.; Sakamura, K. (1988). "Realization of Gmicro/200". IEEE Micro. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. 8 (2): 12–21. doi:10.1109/40.526. S2CID 36938046.
  12. ^ "TRON News Items November 2004". TRON Web. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
  13. ^ "Microsoft vs. Historical Fact".
  14. ^ p. 1596 Takahashi, T.; Namiki, F. (2003). "Three attempts at "de-Wintelization" Japan's TRON project, the US government's suits against Wintel, and the entry of Java and Linux". Research Policy. 32: 1589–1606. doi:10.1016/s0048-7333(03)00043-x.
  15. ^ Landers, Peter (13 December 2018). "The Old U.S. Trade War With Japan Looms Over Today's Dispute With China". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  16. ^ Green, Lloyd; Pane, Jeff (8 December 2017). "IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) and TRON Forum Sign Agreement to Advance IoT Development and Interoperability". Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  17. ^ Krikke, J. (1 January 2005). "T-Engine: Japan's ubiquitous computing architecture is ready for prime time". IEEE Pervasive Computing. 4 (2): 4–9. doi:10.1109/MPRV.2005.40. S2CID 11365911.
  18. ^ "The name of T-Engine Forum was changed to TRON Forum".
  19. ^ "The name of T-Engine Forum was changed to TRON Forum".

External links[edit]

TRON project[edit]


  • B-Free in Japanese; Free BTRON OS project; archived
  • EOTA in Japanese; Free BTRON "EOTA"
  • BTRON introduction (pre-emptive multitasking feature mentioned amongst others)
  • Seiko Brainpad TiPO Plus (URL translated to English / PC Watch article / PDA running BTRON / launched 1998 / 640x240 4-grayscale LCD, IrDA, PCMCIA Type II, 170 × 100 × 20 mm)
  • Chokanji, aka Cho Kanji. From Personal Media Corporation (PMC) [1]. A BTRON-specifications OS which runs on PC hardware. The PMC laptop "Cho Kanji Note W2B", announced on October 30, 2003, includes a Cho Kanji partition with a full suite of productivity applications, including a word processor, spreadsheet, drawing software, card database software, communications software, and an e-mailer and browser [2]. Chokanji V screenshot with English language kit.
  • Pictures of laptops running Chokanji:
    • R1 (from 2003–04; Pentium III M, 866 MHz)
    • T2 (from 2003–06; Pentium M, 900 MHz)
    • W2B (from 2003–10; Pentium M, 1.0 GHz)
    • Y2C (from 2004-03; Pentium M, 1.2 GHz)
    • R3EG (from 2004–11; Pentium M, 1.1 GHz)


TOPPERS project[edit]