|Developer||Terry A. Davis|
|Source model||Open source|
|Initial release||2005 (as J Operating System) |
2013 (as TempleOS)
|Latest release||5.03 / 20 November 2017|
|Default user interface||Text-based|
TempleOS (formerly J Operating System, SparrowOS and LoseThos) is a biblical-themed lightweight operating system designed to be the Third Temple prophesied in the Bible. It was created by American programmer Terry A. Davis, who developed it alone over the course of a decade after a series of episodes that he later described as a revelation from God.
The system was characterized as a modern x86-64 Commodore 64, using an interface similar to a mixture of DOS and Turbo C. Davis proclaimed that the system's features, such as its 640x480 resolution, 16-color display and single audio voice, were explicitly instructed to him by God. It was programmed with an original variation of C (named HolyC) in place of BASIC, and included an original flight simulator, compiler and kernel.
TempleOS was released in 2013 and last updated in 2017. It was received with largely favorable reviews in tech communities and Davis amassed a small online following. One fan described him as a "programming legend", while another, a computer engineer, compared the development of TempleOS to a one-man built skyscraper. Davis died on August 11, 2018.
Terry A. Davis (1969–2018) began experiencing regular manic episodes in 1996, leading him to numerous stays at mental hospitals. Initially diagnosed with bipolar disorder, he was later declared schizophrenic and remained unemployed for the rest of his life. He suffered from delusions of space aliens and government agents that left him briefly hospitalized for his mental health issues. After experiencing a self-described "revelation", he proclaimed that he was in direct communication with God, and that God told him the operating system he built was for God's third temple.
Davis began developing TempleOS circa 2003. One of his early names was the "J Operating System" before renaming it to "LoseThos", a reference to a scene from Platoon (1986). In 2008, Davis wrote that LoseThos was "primarily for making video games. It has no networking or Internet support. As far as I'm concerned, that would be reinventing the wheel". Another name he used was "SparrowOS" before settling on "TempleOS". In mid-2013, his website announced: "God's temple is finished. Now, God kills CIA until it spreads [sic]." Davis died in a train accident on August 11, 2018.
TempleOS is a 64-bit, non-preemptive multi-tasking, multi-cored, public domain, open source, ring-0-only, single address space, non-networked, PC operating system for recreational programming. The OS runs 8-bit ASCII with graphics in source code and has a 2D and 3D graphics library, which run at 640x480 VGA with 16 colors. Like most modern operating systems, it has keyboard and mouse support. It supports ISO 9660, FAT32 and RedSea file systems (the last created by Davis) with support for file compression. According to Davis, many of these specifications—such as the 640x480 resolution, 16-color display and single audio voice—were instructed to him by God. He explained that the limited resolution was to make it easier for children to draw illustrations for God.
The operating system includes an original flight simulator, compiler and kernel. One bundled program, "After Egypt", is a game in which the player travels to a burning bush to use a "high-speed stopwatch". The stopwatch is meant to act as an oracle that generates pseudo-random text, something Davis likened to a Ouija board and glossolalia. An example of generated text follows:
among consigned penally result perverseness checked stated held sensation reasonings skies adversity Dakota lip Suffer approached enact displacing feast Canst pearl doing alms comprehendeth nought
TempleOS was written in a programming language developed by Davis in C and C++, called "HolyC". HolyC is a variation of C, developed by Davis as the programming language of TempleOS. It is used to interact with the shell, and to write and execute entire applications from the shell. The IDE that comes with TempleOS supports several features, such as embedding images in code. It uses a non-standard text format (known as DolDoc) which has support for hypertext links, images and 3D meshes to be embedded into what are otherwise regular ASCII files. A file can have, for example, a spinning 3D model of a tank as a comment in source code. Code can be JIT-compiled. He ultimately wrote over 100,000 lines of code for the OS.
TempleOS received mostly favorable reviews. Tech journalist David Cassel opined that this was partly because "programming websites tried to find the necessary patience and understanding to accommodate Davis". TechRepublic and OSNews published positive articles on Davis' work, even though Davis was banned from the latter for hostile comments targeting its readers and staff. In his review for TechRepublic, James Sanders concluded that "TempleOS is a testament to the dedication and passion of one man displaying his technological prowess. It doesn't need to be anything more." OSNews editor Kroc Kamen wrote that the OS "shows that computing can still be a hobby; why is everybody so serious these days? If I want to code an OS that uses interpretive dance as the input method, I should be allowed to do so, companies like Apple be damned." In 2017, the OS was shown as a part of an outsider art exhibition in Bourogne, France.
After Davis' death, OSNews editor Thom Holwerda wrote: "Davis was clearly a gifted programmer – writing an entire operating system is no small feat – and it was sad to see him affected by his mental illness". One fan described Davis as a "programming legend", while another, a computer engineer, compared the development of TempleOS to a one-man-built skyscraper. The engineer had previously spoken to Davis at length and believed that Davis could have been a "Steve Jobs" or a "Steve Wozniak" were it not for his illness. He added that it "actually boggles my mind that one man wrote all that" and that it was "hard for a lay person to understand what a phenomenal achievement" it is to write an entire operating system alone. Another computer engineer said that TempleOS contained innovations that no other developer had accomplished, particularly that it runs on a certain part of a computer processor to maintain its "extremely quick" speed.
- Hicks, Jesse (November 25, 2014). "God's Lonely Programmer". VICE Motherboard. Retrieved 2015-04-21.
- Cecil, Neita (September 7, 2018). "Man killed by train had tech following". The Dalles Chronicle. (subscription required)
- Bruet-Ferréol, Quentin (May 13, 2014). "Temple OS, un système d'exploitation pour parler à Dieu codé par un fou génial". Slate.fr (in French). Retrieved 2015-04-21.
- Cassel, David (September 23, 2018). "The Troubled Legacy of Terry Davis, 'God's Lonely Programmer'". The New Stack.
- Davis, Terry A. (2008). "The LoseThos IBM PC Operating System". LoseThos. Archived from the original on December 18, 2008.
- Sanders, James (January 21, 2014). "TempleOS: an educational tool for programming experiments". TechRepublic. Retrieved 2015-04-21.
- Davis, Terry A. (2013). "The Temple Operating System". TempleOS. Archived from the original on July 3, 2013.
- Davis, Terry A. (n.d.). "Scheduler". The TempleOS Source Code. Archived from the original on 2016-06-01. Retrieved 2018-06-16.
- Mathieu, Bruno (November 28, 2014). "TempleOS : le système d'exploitation qui parle à Dieu" [TempleOs: The operating system that talks to God]. Tom's Guide (in French). Retrieved 2015-04-21.
- Davis, Terry A. (n.d.). "The Temple Operating System". www.templeos.org. Archived from the original on 2017-03-31. Retrieved 2017-03-30.
- Mitton, Richard (June 8, 2015). "A Constructive Look At TempleOS". www.codersnotes.com. Retrieved 2017-03-30.
- Godin, Philippe (2017-01-13). "la Diagonale de l'art - ART BRUT 2.0". Libération (in French). Retrieved 2018-09-07.
- Holwerda, Thom (September 8, 2018). "Creator of TempleOS, Terry Davis, has passed away". OSNews. Retrieved January 6, 2019.