[TUHS] Unix stories, Stephen Bourne and IF-FI in C code

Tony Finch dot at dotat.at
Tue Jan 10 22:24:58 AEST 2017

Steve Johnson <scj at yaccman.com> wrote:

> I can certainly confirm that Steve Bourne not only knew Algol 68, he
> was quite an evangelist for it.  When he came to the labs, he got a
> number of people, including me, to plough through the Algol 68 report,
> probably the worst written introduction to anything Ive ever read. 

This is a bit off topic, sorry, but a couple more Algol 68 observations...

> They were firmly convinced they were breaking new ground and
> consequently invented new terms for all kinds of otherwise familiar
> ideas.  It was as if the report had been written in Esperanto...  

Or maybe Latin with the way it inflects words e.g. the -ETY suffix being
sort for "or empty", i.e. an optional thing. Though I don't know what
would be a good comparison for all the elision, e.g. MOID = MODE or VOID,
MODINE = MODE or ROUTINE. (a MODE is what they call a type...)

There's a nicely te-typeset version at

The other classic of Algol 68 literature was the Informal Introduction, in
which the structure of the book was arranged in two orthogonal dimensions.
The table of contents is a sight to behold.


One of my ex-colleagues (now retired) was Chris Cheney, who worked with
Steve Bourne on the Algol 68C project. I think it was on that project
where he invented his beautiful compacting copying garbage collector

f.anthony.n.finch  <dot at dotat.at>  http://dotat.at/  -  I xn--zr8h punycode
Trafalgar: North 5 to 7, occasionally 4 at first. Slight or moderate, becoming
rough or very rough except in far southeast. Occasional rain. Moderate or

More information about the TUHS mailing list