[TUHS] RIP John Backus

Clem Cole clemc at ccc.com
Tue Mar 20 01:46:54 AEST 2018

arrgh -- dyslexia -- VT-100's are NOT  full ansi [they use the ANSI
sequences, but do not implement all of the features/behaviors in the
spec].  VMS Fortran started the same way, although it did conform in time
because it had to pass the Fortran validation tests.

On Mon, Mar 19, 2018 at 11:43 AM, Clem Cole <clemc at ccc.com> wrote:

> On Mon, Mar 19, 2018 at 10:50 AM, Dan Cross <crossd at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I'm curious at the FORTRAN effort: what was that about, where did it come
>> from, and why was it abandoned?
> ​I'll let Ken, Steve or Doug answer definitively that​ but I would suspect
> - it is a lot of work and at time t0, it was less valuable than some of the
> other efforts going at the time.
>> Second, 7th Edition came with the "f77" command implementing
>> (unsurprisingly) Fortran 77. A paper by Stu Feldman and Peter Weinberger in
>> Volume 2 describes the compiler and includes this line: "This is believed
>> to be the first complete Fortran 77 system to be implemented." (
>> https://s3.amazonaws.com/plan9-bell-labs/7thEdMan/vol2/f77.txt)
> ​Mumble, although probably true in absolute fact.  The DEC VAX/VMS Fortran
> compiler was contemporary.   I have always said that the best piece of work
> DEC Marketing ever did was convince the world that VMS Fortran was F77 (it
> was not).   It ended up being a super-set, although it did not start out
> that way (similar to people believing VT-100's are ANSI - they are and in
> that case never did fully conform).
>> Was that true? Notable in this paper is mention that the Fortran compiler
>> can drive the backend of either Ritchie's PDP-11 C compiler *or* Johnson's
>> portable C compiler. What was the local story? Did this see local use?
> ​I used the PCC/VAX version extensively (as well as ratfor) for the 'users
> space' part of my thesis work.   My housemate, Tom Quarles, had developed
> SPICE3 (in C) and Ellis Cohen had written SPICE2 in FORTRAN.   FPS had done
> a great deal of development on the array processor that was the basis for
> my work, all in Ratfor but assuming VMS under the coveres (they wrote an
> optimizing parallel Fortran compiler in same -- those guys are now the
> Portland Compiler Group).​
> ​I worked, although moving stuff from VMS to BSD was huge because F77 !=
> VMS Fortran.  Much of the 'grunt' work I had was making all that work.​   In
> fact, it was this work that I found a bug in the C compiler runtimes, that
> I have written about elsewhere.  The ratfor code called F77, which shared
> C's runtime.
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