[TUHS] Why Pascal is Not My Favorite Programming Language - Unearthed!

Toby Thain toby at telegraphics.com.au
Sat Sep 2 02:08:10 AEST 2017


On 2017-09-01 11:57 AM, Dan Cross wrote:
> On Thu, Aug 31, 2017 at 11:59 PM, Toby Thain <toby at telegraphics.com.au
> <mailto:toby at telegraphics.com.au>> wrote:
> 
>     On 2017-08-31 10:38 PM, Dan Cross wrote:
>     > On Thu, Aug 31, 2017 at 3:47 PM, Toby Thain <toby at telegraphics.com.au <mailto:toby at telegraphics.com.au>
>     > <mailto:toby at telegraphics.com.au <mailto:toby at telegraphics.com.au>>> wrote:
>     > [snip] 
>     >
>     >     > But the problem was that in those days, because Wirth had designed it
>     >     > for complete small student programs, it was hard to write large real
>     >     > programs (as Brian points).  So people fixed it and every fixed it
>     >     > differently.  Pascal was hardly standardized. ...
>     >     >
>     >     > And this was the root of the real problem.
>     >     >
>     >     > You could not write “real” programs in it and really make them run on
>     >     > actual systems.   Brian was writing that paper, after an exercise in
>     >
>     >     Professor Knuth seemed to manage OK, writing TeX and METAFONT in Pascal
>     >     (using his literate programming toolset, but that did not extend the
>     >     language much).
>     >
>     > To be fair, I think that Knuth originally wrote both TeX and METAFONT in
>     > the SAIL language for the PDP-10. He switched to Pascal (again on the
>     > PDP-10) later.
> 
>     My point was that these are very much "real world" programs in a rather
>     vanilla Pascal.
> 
> 
> Well, naturally. My point is to wonder whether that was in spite of the
> language.


I think *everything* we do is "in spite of" the language we're using. :)

We will never reach a point where programming language evolution stops,
imho.

--T


> 
>     (And if you want to bring SAIL into it as another substrate for "real
>     world" programs, we might learn something from contrasting it with
>     Pascal and C. I don't remember anything about it.)
> 
> 
> That would be an interesting exercise, albeit a bit far afield from
> TUHS, but perhaps the relevance is that one point Pascal and C were
> rivals for marketshare (or so it seemed to me early on). Surely, C and
> Unix were influenced by other competing technologies of the time.
> 
>         - Dan C.
> 



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