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TRON (The Real-Time Operating System Nucleus)

Contributor(s): Bruce Witzel

TRON (The Real-Time Operating System Nucleus) is a standard real-time operating system ( RTOS ) kernel that can be tailored to any embedded system . TRON, originally invented by Ken Sakamura, has become a standard for embedded systems in Japan. The specification and its variants are used in more than 3,000,000,000 microprocessors worldwide. The main focus of the TRON project, supported almost entirely by Japanese industries, is to provide an environment for distributed computing among small machines on a vast scale.

Variants of TRON include:

  • BTRON (Business TRON)
  • CTRON (Communication and Central TRON)
  • eTRON (Entity TRON)
  • ITRON (Industrial TRON)
  • JTRON (Industrial TRON adapted to Java )
  • µITRON (Micro-Industrial TRON)

TRON and its variants have been developed with the following principles in mind:

  • Organize specification variants into defined levels.
  • Allow for adaptation to specific hardware devices.
  • Avoid excessive hardware virtualization.
  • Allow for adaptation to specific applications.
  • Streamline the learning curve for programmers and engineers.
  • Leave room for new hardware-specific and application-specific features.

"Tron" is also the name of a pioneering science-fiction movie from 1982. Jeff Bridges stars as a hacker pulled into an arcade game where he fights against an evil computer program to stay alive in the virtual world. Tron was one of the first films to use computer-generated effects extensively. The film's premise also inspired one of the first popular mass market video games in the 1980s, in which gamers raced " bikes" in a competition to draw the longest continuous line on the virtual playing field. They had to so without crashing into the trails they left while traveling at high speeds, just as Bridges' character had done on screen.

Another bit of Tron trivia, from
Many Disney animators refused to work on this movie because they feared that computers would put them out of business. In fact, 22 years later Disney closed its hand-drawn animation studio in favor of CGI animation.

Tron also stands for "trace on," a command in GW BASIC . According to some reports, the movie was named for the command.

This was last updated in March 2011

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