[TUHS] Book Recommendation

Douglas McIlroy douglas.mcilroy at dartmouth.edu
Wed Nov 17 00:57:55 AEST 2021

The following remark stirred old memories. Apologies for straying off
the path of TUHS.

> I have gotten the impression that [PL/I] was a language that was beloved by no one.

As I was a designer of PL/I, an implementer of EPL (the preliminary
PL/I compiler used to build Multics), and author of the first PL/I
program to appear in the ACM Collected Algorithms, it's a bit hard to
admit that PL/I was "insignificant". I'm proud, though, of having
conceived the SIGNAL statement, which pioneered exception handling,
and the USES and SETS attributes, which unfortunately sank into
oblivion. I also spurred Bud Lawson to invent -> for pointer-chasing.
The former notation C(B(A)) became A->B->C. This was PL/I's gift to C.

After the ACM program I never wrote another line of PL/I.
Gratification finally came forty years on when I met a retired
programmer who, unaware of my PL/I connection, volunteered that she
had loved PL/I above all other programming languages.


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