[TUHS] Etymology of bc(1)

John Cowan cowan at mercury.ccil.org
Fri Sep 12 08:17:43 AEST 2014

Dave Horsfall scripsit:

> > I?d always heard ?binary calculator? but I don?t have a good reference 
> > for that.
> I've heard "binary" because it used binary arithmetic (and limited 
> precision), and "basic" because it was a lot simpler than "dc" (which I've 
> always thought was "decimal" calculator due to it using arbitrary 
> precision decimal arithmetic).

That can't be right.  Bc was just an overlay to dc that parsed bc
language, compiled it into dc language, and fed dc from a pipe (all the
output was direct from dc).  So the arithmetic capabilities were exactly
the same.

I note that bc first appeared just about when bas(1) disappeared, so
perhaps there is a connection in their names.

John Cowan          http://www.ccil.org/~cowan        cowan at ccil.org
In the sciences, we are now uniquely privileged to sit side by side
with the giants on whose shoulders we stand.  --Gerald Holton

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