Ever wondered where Forth gets used? Does it get used at all? You may be very surprised but rather than try and list all the other ones I might know about while missing out the other 99% I thought I would just try to list and describe a little bit of the stuff that I've done myself over the years.
Point of Sale terminals
This was in the 80's and my first Forth project and ran on Rockwell R6511AQ 8-bit CPU. Also did other POS terminals into the 90's as well with 16-bit chips like the M37702 based on the 65816. All these units were WOW stuff at the time and I could modem across the country to individual multidropped terminals and see what was happening while it was being used. Of course I could view and update anything as well as the software remotely. Working out of a company's offices one time in Dallas I was asked if I could interface these EFTPOS terminals to my stuff but when they came back a few hours later I already had it up and running because I could interact with the terminal while I felt out and developed the interface despite the lack of documentation. I even figured out what a special IC did on one piece of equipment because I could just fire all these various sequences and tests at it as fast as I could type. The engineers were speechless, how? impossible? What! How?
Some other companies and teams would try to do better with conventional and "proper" languages but would end up needing more and more memory and CPU power and time (and people). Is that better? Go figure.
There have been all kinds of vending machines that I have made over the years but mostly card type vending for when phone cards were the rage or even ones used for gambling (mostly US) etc. The CPUs used were anything from 6502'ish chips to MSP430s. One time the client who I supplied the boards to had a problem with my "software" since it allowed five dollar notes to be gobbled by the machine. Using the Forth on-board I could talk to machine in operation but also on the bench and found the design of the note acceptor wanting but I only receive greater threats from the client and the note acceptor manufacturer. Some further software testing and now with data logging built in using the Flash program memory and being to talk to machines via the front panel IR link allowed me to produce detailed reports that showed that there was no fault in the software. Instead it turned out that the note acceptor continually rejected certain batches of five dollar notes then ended up curling them around its rollers while trying to reject it and not knowing that it had failed. I kept my customer.
Mobile phone "booth"
Back in the 90's I did versions of mobile phone boxes that included VGA resolution color LCD panels and even SCSI drives that held advertising slides. These units were mounted on buses and trains mostly.
Coin operated Taxi booking
Back in the 90's I invented these small boxes mounted like parking meters or on walls of clubs and shops etc that allowed you to insert a coin to book a cab. The machine would print out a receipt with the booking number etc and the cabbie would pull-up asking for that number. Forth also allowed me to interface to the cab companies computer interactively to figure out the protocol and timing etc so that in one afternoon I had taken a control pcb which sat in a shoe box (literally) and had it up and running handling multiple dtmf phone lines and booking cabs.
Multi-channel protocol converters
There are all kinds of datacommunications protocols that I've handled and Forth also made it very easy to debug in a powerful and flexible way while testing and developing the software since the equipment you interface to does not always behave well. Chips have been mostly 16-bit like the M37702, MSP430, or ARM chips as well as the Prop of course. These kinds of units are buried in roadside cabinets, in air traffic control rooms, plant control rooms, etc.
Test instruments and metering
There have been a number of specialty test instruments that have been created and sometimes I create them even for myself as in the case of needing to interface to GPIB on a HP MSO. Forth allowed me to automate and discover ways to get the most out of them.
I don't know where to start here as there have been so many applications but be assured that when you are testing and developing on-site that in many cases Forth has proven to be very useful in getting things worked out and tuned, and also in being able to get out of the place. Nothing like showing a customer a possible machine sequence with a quick one-liner, I just love em.
Talk about encoders and sensors and VFDs, these fume cupboards have stacks of inputs and outputs to take care of. It was always nice to be able to sit beside one I designed and plug in a PC and test out the various sensors and outputs in operation. One time my PC went crazy and it turned out that the sparky had wired a nasty VFD a few meters away from the motor with cables running alongside signal cables, and no shielding. The PC keyboard just picked it all up and spat it out.
There is a big market for high-end data logging for security companies and government. I've used ARM chips as well as Props and both times it was rewarding to be able interact with the data and improve methods and see the results in real-time.
It's after 2AM here and I'm getting tired especially since I realize now that I have barely scraped the surface, but Forth is out there and running year after year all over the place and doing what it needs to do without requiring an overkill in hardware resources to support it. If I find the time I will add some more cool stuff and details to this thread.