[TUHS] where did "main" come from?

Toby Thain toby at telegraphics.com.au
Sat May 23 09:33:32 AEST 2020

On 2020-05-22 5:52 PM, Clem Cole wrote:
> It's interesting, I was thinking about this the other day too.   I
> remember talking about the 'main program' in Fortran when I was
> learning.  I never thought about it when I saw it in C, other than, ok
> that's how you pass command line args, which I thought was really
> clean.   I remember TOPS and TSS you had to go rummaging around to get
> to them.  
> As for your BCPL question, START() was way I learned it.  I think I
> first saw it on the 360s or maybe the 1108; but really never did much it
> until I saw the first Altos. 

This chart could lead to some predictable conclusions, don't know if
they are correct:


> Clem  
> On Fri, May 22, 2020 at 2:53 PM Lawrence Stewart <stewart at serissa.com
> <mailto:stewart at serissa.com>> wrote:
>     C main programs define “main”.
>     This also seems to be true of B main programs, according to the
>     Johnson/Kernighan manual
>     The 1967 Martin Richards BCPL manual doesn’t explain how programs
>     get started
>     The 1974 update from Martin Richards says there should be an OS
>     addendum that explains this.
>     The 1974 University of Essex BCPL manual says to use START
>     The 1979 Parc Alto BCPL manual uses Main and I think that must be
>     unchanged from 1972.
>     The AMSTRAD BCPL guide from 1986 uses start()
>     So who started “main” and when?  I can’t find an online copy of the
>     Bell Laboratories BCPL manual (Canaday/Thompson) from 1969 or
>     anything about how to use BCPL on Multics or CTSS.
>     -L

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