[TUHS] History of popularity of C

Christopher Browne cbbrowne at gmail.com
Wed May 27 02:21:28 AEST 2020

On Tue, 26 May 2020 at 12:01, Thomas Paulsen <thomas.paulsen at firemail.de>

> >Dr. Lions himself) it was emphasised to us that it was not a production
> >language bur a *teaching* language;
> In the early 90ths I written some larger programs in Turbo Pascal after
> years of intensively working with my favored C&C++ language, and was
> surprised how well designed the Borland language was. Thus, recently I
> installed Free-Pascal with its comfortable IDE and since then I'm wondering
> why they always inventing new languages as these 'old' C&Pascal languages
> are so well designed and implemented, that I can't imagine that anything
> else is really needed.

I remember the fighting going on at that time.

I did some Pascal in about 1986, with one of the Waterloo compilers, and
found it mildly a pain in the neck; it was a reasonably-nearly-strict
version of the academic language, and was painful for non-academic
programming for the reasons normally thrown about.

In grad school, I TA'ed a course that was using TurboPascal, and it was
definitely a reasonable extension towards usability for larger programs
that needed more sophisticated environmental interactions.  The compiler
was decently fast (unlike Ada, anyone??? ;-) ), and the makers were
selective and adequately opinionated as to their extensions.

And I fully recall the split ongoing, as academic folk would regard
TurboPascal as "non-conformant" with the standard, whilst bwk's missive on
"Why Pascal Is Not My Favorite Language" provides a good explanation...

And bwk nicely observed, "Because the language is so impotent, it must be
extended.  But each group extends Pascal in its own direction, to make it
look like whatever language they really want."

The Modula family seemed like the better direction; those were still
Pascal-ish, but had nice intentional extensions so that they were not
nearly so "impotent."  I recall it being quite popular, once upon a time,
to write code in Modula-2, and run it through a translator to mechanically
transform it into a compatible subset of Ada for those that needed DOD
compatibility.  The Modula-2 compilers were wildly smaller and faster for
getting the code working, you'd only run the M2A part once in a while
(probably overnight!)
When confronted by a difficult problem, solve it by reducing it to the
question, "How would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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