SPITBOL for OSX is now available

The SPITBOL project is pleased to announce that an implementation for OSX is now available, and can be found at github.com/spitbol/spitbol.

SPITBOL now supports the use of the gas (GNU as) assembler to translate the MINIMAL source code. This is now the default translator used for Unix and OSX.

Executable binaries:

./bin/sbl_osx OSX SPITBOL (64 bits)

./bin/sbl_unix Unix version (64 bits)

./bin/sbl_unix_32 Unix version (32 bits)


./docs/green-book.pdf The SNOBOL4 Programming Language, Griswold, et. al.

./docs/spitbol-manual.pdf SPITBOL User Manual, Emmer and Quillen

./demos demonstration programs from the SPITBOL User Manual

SPITBOL is licensed under the GPL (v2 or later) license. All code needed to build the system is included in this repository.

To build spitbol (./sbl):


make osx

make test_osx

make unix

make test_unix
See readme.txt for instructions on interpreting the test output.


  1. Jan
    Posted August 23, 2015 at 04:17 | Permalink | Reply

    Hi Dave,

    thank you very much for providing Spitbol for OSX. Snobol/Spitbol was my first programming language in university, and it is still my favourite goto-language whenever I run into a problem that first the Snobol4 patterns much better than anything else.
    Do your plans also include a version that will run on the Raspberry Pi?


    • Posted August 24, 2015 at 08:08 | Permalink | Reply


      Thanks for the note. Re Raspberry Pi, there is a prototype implementation called Gobol that can be found at http://github.com/daveshields/gobol. It’s an interpreter for a made-up MIPS-like machine. It’s written in Go and so should be runnable on a Pi. It only supports standard input and standard output files.

      I plan to extended it eventually, especially now that Go 1.5 is written entirely in Go.


  2. Daniel Boulet
    Posted August 27, 2015 at 01:38 | Permalink | Reply

    I wrote quite a lot of Snobol4 and Spitbol back in the day (back in the late 70s and early 80s on the MTS operating system at the University of Alberta). I have also written a bit of Snobol here and there in more recent times using a Unix version that was kicking around a while back. This will be fun to at least take out for a test drive. With luck, I will even find something real to do with it.

    MANY thanks.


  3. Anthony Panos
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 17:14 | Permalink | Reply

    I am having difficulty compiling SPITBOL on the MacOS-X v10.11.3 (ElCapitan). Are there any updates?

  4. Posted March 13, 2017 at 16:58 | Permalink | Reply

    Hi Dave, does the OS X Spitbol save out to an executable format?


    Spitbol is able to write a save file, which should meet your needs.

    The main reason that executable format was provided when SPITBOL was a paid-for program was so that programs could be sent to users who did not have a copy of SPITBOL they could use to load a save file.


  5. Russ Urquhart
    Posted November 11, 2020 at 18:18 | Permalink | Reply

    Hey Dave, I just tried to copy the binary from the static linked file, for OS xX, and follow the instructions, but it didn’t work. There was no spitbol file in the ./bin, only a sbl. Also, trying to run sbl hellp.sbl didn’t work either. There used to be a link to download the executable, is that still there?

    • Posted November 16, 2020 at 09:53 | Permalink | Reply


      Thanks for the note. If you look at the more recent posts on this blog, you will see that I withdrew the MacOS port since Apple’s version of the gcc toolchain was unreliable. However, you can run the 64-bit version of X64 Spitbol on MacOS using VirtualBox.


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