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Communications of the ACM


50 Years of Pascal

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Credit: Fiverr

In the early 1960s, the languages Fortran (John Backus, IBM) for scientific, and Cobol (Jean Sammet, IBM, and DoD) for commercial applications dominated. Programs were written on paper, then punched on cards, and one waited a day for the results. Programming languages were recognized as essential aids and accelerators of the programming process.

In 1960, an international committee published the language Algol 60.1 It was the first time a language was defined by concisely formulated constructs and by a precise, formal syntax. Two years later, it was recognized that a few corrections and improvements were needed. Mainly, however, the range of applications should be widened, because Algol 60 was intended for scientific calculations (numerical mathematics) only. Under the auspices of IFIP a Working Group (WG 2.1) was established to tackle this project.


George Wells

This article bring back some wonderful memories: learning to program in CS1 in the early 1980s with UCSD Pascal, then moving on to Turbo Pascal, and later teaching Modula-2 in the late '80s and '90s.

Bruce McGee

Very nice, but I would respectfully submit that any history of Pascal should include at least some mention of Delphi, the successor of Turbo Pascal, which I have been using for 26 years.

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