[TUHS] RIP John Backus

Tom Ivar Helbekkmo tih at hamartun.priv.no
Tue Mar 20 04:40:18 AEST 2018

Jon Forrest <nobozo at gmail.com> writes:

> It took a while before the VAX C compiler was good enough, and
> even then, it wasn't cheap. I was in the VMS development group
> at Sybase in the early 1990s and we often hit issues in VAX C,
> and in the VAX Debug support for it.

VAX C was still pretty awful in the late 90s, while their FORTRAN was
really excellent, not least because of the high quality optimizer.

> Back to Unix ...

Agreed.  :)

...but first: being Norwegian, I have to plug another really good
FORTRAN compiler; the one in SINTRAN, the operating system for the
Norwegian built mini computers from Norsk Data.  They took FORTRAN-77,
and added even more bling to it, resulting in a compiler that could
accept the following program:

C    This FORTRAN progam may be compiled and run on a Norsk Data
C    computer running SINTRAN and the FTN compiler.  It uses only
C    FORTRAN reserved words, and contains just one numerical
C    constant, in a character string (a format specifier).  When
C    you run it, it prints a well known mathematical construct...
C    Even FORTRAN is a block structured programming language:


Anyone care to guess what the output looks like?

Most people who graduate with CS degrees don't understand the significance
of Lisp.  Lisp is the most important idea in computer science.  --Alan Kay
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