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Open Watcom
Watcom logo.png
Original author(s) Watcom
SciTech Software
Developer(s) Open community
Initial release 2003-01-28
Stable release 1.8 / 2009-02-21
Operating system Cross-platform
Size 73.8 Mb
Development status Active
Type Integrated development environment
License Sybase Open Watcom Public License version 1.0

The Watcom C/C++ compiler is esteemed amongst DOS developers by the high execution speed of the compiled code it produces and for having been one of the first compilers to support the Intel 80386 "protected mode". In the mid-1990s, some of the most technically ambitious DOS games such as Doom, Descent and Duke Nukem 3D were built using Watcom C.[1]

Though no longer sold commercially by Sybase, the Watcom C/C++ compiler and the Watch Fortran compiler have been made available as the open source Open Watcom package with the assistance of SciTech Software. The code is portable and, like many other open source compiler projects such as GCC, the compiler backend (code generator) is retargetable. The compiler can be operated from, and generate executable code for, the DOS, OS/2 and Windows operating systems. It also supports NLM targets for Novell NetWare. There is ongoing work to retarget it for the Linux[2] and modern BSD (e.g., FreeBSD) operating systems, running on x86, PowerPC and other processors. The Open Watcom C/C++ version 1.4 release on December 2005 introduced Linux x86 as an experimental target, supported from NT or OS/2 host platforms. There is code for an abandoned QNX version, but libraries necessary for it to be compiled could not be released as open source. The current stable version 1.8 was released in February 2009.[3]


Release history

The Open Watcom Wiki has a comprehensive history.[4]

Date Product Notes
1984 Waterloo C for S/370
1985 Work on current code generator codebase started
1988 Watcom C 6.0
  • DOS host and target only
  • Included a debugger and full set of runtime libraries
  • Generated better code than other compilers at the time
1989 Watcom C 7.0
1989 Watcom C 7.0/386
1990 Watcom C 8.0
1990 Watcom C 8.0/386
1991 Watcom C 8.5
1991 Watcom C 8.5/386
1992 Watcom C 9.0
1992 Watcom C 9.0/386
  • OS/2 2.0 host and target support
  • 486 optimizations
  • Based pointer support
Watcom C 9.01/386
1993 Watcom C/C++ 9.5
1993 Watcom C/C++ 9.5/386
1994 Watcom C/C++ 10.0
1995 Watcom C/C++ 10.5
1996 Watcom C/C++ 10.6
1997 Watcom C/C++ 11.0
  • Namespace, RTTI, and new style cast support in C++ compiler
  • 64-bit integer support
  • Multi-byte character support in libraries
  • Incremental linking support
  • COFF and ELF object file support in linker and librarian
  • Microsoft clone tools added
  • DLL based tools for better IDE integration
1998 Watcom C/C++ 11.0B
1999 Sybase issues end-of-life notice for Watcom C/C++ 11.0
2000 Sybase announces open sourcing of Watcom tools
2001-09-27 Watcom C/C++ 11.0c Beta
2002-12-21 Watcom C/C++ 11.0c
2003-01-28 Open Watcom 1.0
2003-08-12 Open Watcom 1.1
2004-01-07 Open Watcom 1.2
2004-08-03 Open Watcom 1.3
2005-12-14 Open Watcom 1.4
2006-04-26 Open Watcom 1.5
2006-12-15 Open Watcom 1.6
2007-08-18 Open Watcom 1.7
2007-10-23 Open Watcom 1.7a
2009-02-21 Open Watcom 1.8

Compatibility with other compilers

Open Watcom's syntax supports many conventions started by other compilers (such as Microsoft's and Borland's), including differing conventions regarding (for instance) the number of leading underscores on the "asm" tag. Code written for another compiler will often compile with Watcom's, but there may be better/more efficient ways to do things.


External links

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