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Pascal is An Unrecognized Underdog


An underdog is one who receives little recognition and goes ignored. Pascal is definitely an underdog. The critical articles like "Why Pascal Isn't My Favorite Programming Language" didn't help.

Who said that Pascal couldn't be improved? Why take cheap shots at a language that was in progress? In year 2006, Pascal is very much different from what it was back in the 1975 era. Even in 1975, people still appreciated Pascal.


Here is a Ken Thompson related quote, yes his roots are from Pascal systems and programs:
1975 - Another PDP-11 and Ken Thompson arrive at Berkeley. Pascal becomes a killer app for Unix. --The History Of Unix

Here is a Bill Joy and Ken Thompson related quote - yes, their roots came from Pascal systems:

This version of px is a 11/70"" PDP 11/70 to 11/780"" VAX 11/780 opcode mapping of the original px that was designed and implemented by Ken Thompson, with extensive modifications and additions by William Joy and Charles Haley. Without their work, this Berkeley Pascal system would never have existed.

Of course, Java looks suspiciously like a mixture between Pascal and some C.. Obviously, William Joy (The Sun Microsystems Guy) has roots, deep roots in Pascal.

Here's another:

Ken Thompson wrote the first version of Berkeley Pascal while working at Berkeley as Visiting Mackay Lecturer ...

Do you know who William Joy is? Do you know who Ken Thompson is? Look these folks up. These are the big players. The inventor and founder of Sun Microsystems, the inventor and founder of Unix. All these folks had roots in Pascal - very deep and strong roots. Major roots.

The roots of the popular Vi editor,again rooting from Pascal:

At the beginning of 1978, the first Berkeley Software Distribution was available. It consisted of a tape of the Berkeley Pascal System and the ex text editor. The graduate student was Bill Joy, and the distribution cost $50. The next year Berkeley got some ADM-3a terminals, and Joy rewrote em to vi -- a truly visual editor.

Yes, an underdog for a long time.

UNIX Evolution: 1975-1984; Part I - Diversity ...

Berkeley UNIX has included Pascal for a long time.

Quoted from The Evolution of NetBSD:

In the fall of 1975, two "unnoticed graduate students", Bill Joy and Chuck Haley, began exploring the new system. The two first worked on a Pascal compiler, then a new editing program, and finally began exploring the Unix kernel itself. Other institutions were interested in their code and their changes, so the first "Berkeley Software Distribution" was created in early 1977.

Quoted from the Vi Survival Guide:

The vi editor has an interesting history. It was created in a Berkeley University dorm room, Evans Hall, in 1976 by Bill Joy and some of his friends, although he was the one who fleshed most of it out, using the Pascal language.

What baffles me is when Bill Joy decided to convert Vi to C because supposedly he was getting annoyed with Pascal not having certain features. I can see getting annoyed at Standard Pascal - but why not just improve Pascal at that time? You have an existing source base of Pascal code and you need some more language features - you are a smart student attending Berkeley who has written compilers - DUH! Just improve Pascal for your needs.

Instead, he goes on to use C because he doesn't have the initiative or maybe the intelligence to figure out that he could just extend Pascal to suit his needs. Pascal could have been developed further at this point - unfortunately Bill Joy was too lazy, and he chose a language that was already in development progress - the C language. Because of Bill Joy's laziness and lack of motivation to improve Pascal, they had to reinvent the wheel. Instead of improving Pascal, they reinvented Pascal in a completely different looking language, C.

Then, a few decades later - Java is invented by Sun Microsystems, the company Bill Joy headed. Java looks an awful lot like Pascal, with some C syntax thrown in here and there. Why did Java steer away from a lot of C's arcane syntax (although keeping some of it) and why did Java steer away from C's unsafe typing? No doubt, because Bill Joy still had that Pascal inside him - decades later.

The Quote below proves my suspicions are correct:

Basic to Java: Assembling a Career
PostScript was pretty loose with types, and we wanted the type safety of Pascal.

The underdog quotation of the century, quoted from O'Reilly ONJava Blog:

While other recent languages (Smalltalk, Eiffel, Object Pascal and so forth) have made important contributions to the theory and practice of software engineering, and contributed to the development of not a few real applications, they’ll show up as tiny slivers on a pie chart showing the languages of choice in today’s development environments.

There was also a Pascal which smells an aweful lot like .NET/Java interpreters:

Does anyone remember UCSD-Pascal? Kind of Java's and .NET's grand (grand) father. At the time it was popular (Apple II ...) they hat at most 64k of RAM, 360k disks and no hard disk drives. But they had already useful applications running (compiler, editor, sql databases, wordprocessors, spreadsheets, ...). And this was partly due to the fact that the interpreted P-code used was very compact.
--Anonymous


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