3.1221 programming languages (334)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Tue, 27 Mar 90 19:58:28 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 1221. Tuesday, 27 Mar 1990.

(1) Date: Mon, 26 Mar 90 20:57:11 PST (39 lines)
From: Linc Kesler <KESLERL@ORSTVM>
Subject: programming langauges

(2) Date: Tue, 27 Mar 90 01:14:51 -0800 (14 lines)
From: edwards%cogsci.Berkeley.EDU@lilac.berkeley.edu (Jane Edwards)
Subject: BASIC

(3) Date: Tue, 27 Mar 90 06:45:15 EST (24 lines)
From: "Eric Johnson DSU, Madison, SD 57042" <ERIC@SDNET>
Subject: Icon and SNOBOL4

(4) Date: Tue, 27 Mar 90 07:12 CST (32 lines)
Subject: BASIC

(5) Date: Tue, 27 Mar 90 11:01:00 EST (13 lines)
Subject: 3.1217 trying BASIC, cont. (32)

(6) Date: Tuesday, 27 March 1990 0901-EST (85 lines)
From: HUMM@PENNDRLS (Alan Humm Religious Studies U. of Penn)
Subject: more on BASIC, Pascal, C & Icon

(7) Date: Tue, 27 Mar 90 12:56:44 CST (45 lines)
From: "Robin C. Cover" <ZRCC1001@SMUVM1>

(8) Date: Tue, 27 Mar 90 13:24:08 MST (34 lines)
From: koontz@alpha.bldr.nist.gov
Subject: Icon for MS-DOS

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 90 20:57:11 PST
From: Linc Kesler <KESLERL@ORSTVM>
Subject: programming langauges

Reply to Bob Kraft et. al.:
In the debate about computer languages, I have to agree that
inherently structured languages such as Pascal seem preferable for
developing strong conceptual structuring and modularity, though
current Basic offerings such as QuickBasic and TurboBasic have some
nifty features not found in other languages. Both current versions of
TurboPascal and QuickPascal also contain Object Oriented Programming
extensions and are reputed to be easier to learn for OOP programming
than C++, which is the OOP version of C most used. I can get
TurboPascal, which seems to be the Pascal of choice at the moment, for
the educational price of $55 at my U bookstore. That's hard to beat,
and the manuals are supposedly a course in themselves. I have
TurboPascal 4.0 and think its a really good environment in which to
learn. You can also access interrupts, write interrupt handlers and
TSRs, write in-line assembler code, and do industrial strength stuff
in this language, and there are lots of aftermarket books and library
routines available. As for C, well, if you're doing it all the time,
the terse syntax is great (the Hewlet-Packard people up the street
seem to love it, and they do it in their sleep, not to mention at
parties, which is pretty boring), and the ability to do low-level
stuff is great if you're an unreconstructed assembly language geek
like me, but C is pretty cryptic if you aren't doing it every day, so
Pascal, particularly given the OOP extensions, looks like the best bet
to me. If you're not familiar with the OOP concept, you might want to
pick up some recent mags like PC or Byte: seems to me the conceptual
structure of this style of programming has real promise for humanities
types, as a mode of thinking as well as practicality, what with the
concepts of inheritance & capability to re-use code while customizing
it to new applications. Check it out. But if you're from the old
school and insist on mandatory bibliography courses and Old English,
make 'em do structured programming in Assembler--aye matie,
why with the wind in their teeth and a cold shower before chapel in
the morning, you'll make real soldiers outta the ones that make it,
and damned be he who cries "enough!"
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------27----
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 90 01:14:51 -0800
From: edwards%cogsci.Berkeley.EDU@lilac.berkeley.edu (Jane Edwards)
Subject: BASIC

In 3.1217 KRAFT@PENNDRLS asks:
> Do all forms of Pascal and C cost significant money these
> days?

I was quite favorably impressed by the Turbo PASCAL I got for a PC
awhile back for only $50. It came with good documentation,
and had a nice user interface, I thought. One of those rare
occasions where quality and low price coincide.

-Jane Edwards (edwards@cogsci.berkeley.edu)
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------31----
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 90 06:45:15 EST
From: "Eric Johnson DSU, Madison, SD 57042" <ERIC@SDNET>
Subject: Icon and SNOBOL4

Implementations of the Icon programming language are available for
MS-DOS microcomputers and several other microcomputers as well as for
MVS, UNIX, VAX/VMS, and VM/CMS. All are in the public domain except
an MS-DOS/386 version. They are distributed by the Icon Project,
Department of Computer Science, Gould-Simpson building, The University
of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721. Phone (602) 621-4049 for ordering
information. There is a small cost for materials: the MS-DOS
executables cost $20.00; MS-DOS/386 version is $25.00.

Vanilla SNOBOL4 for MS-DOS is also public domain. It can be ordered
for a small charge ($10.00, I think) from Catspaw, Inc., P.O. Box 1123,
Salida, CO 81201; phone is (719) 539-3884.

Icon and SNOBOL4 (and the high-performance version called SPITBOL)
are designed to perform the kind of non-numeric operations that
humanists want with a minimum of programming effort. That is why
I suggested one or both of them as a part of a course in programming
for the humanities.

(4) --------------------------------------------------------------38----
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 90 07:12 CST
Subject: BASIC

Borland, the maker of Turbo C and Turbo Pascal, has very (make that
VERY) aggressive academic pricing program. Turbo C retails for $149.95,
yet the academic price is $49.95 for a single copy and $300.00 for a lab
pack of 10 copies. Turbo Pascal retails for $149.95, yet the academic
price is $49.95 for a single copy and $300.00 for a lab pack of 10 copies.

As a full-time computer programmer for the past 10 years (and only
secondarily a humanist), I must side with those people who are shocked
at a programming course built around BASIC, which is NOT a mainstream
language. For that matter, SNOBOL and ICON, both of which I've learned
and abandoned, are not mainstream either. I don't see any reason to
program in a language that only fellow humanists can support when there
exists so much third-party support for Pascal and C. I can pick up any
computer-related magazine at the store and learn many new ideas related
to C and Pascal. Can I do the same with BASIC or SNOBOL or ICON? I can
choose from among several different programming tool packages that
contain pre-coded routines for menus, directories, windows, text
processing, graphics, etc. Can I do the same for BASIC or SNOBOL or

Finally, I must correct whoever in this dialogue mentioned that
Turbo Basic is a viable language. Borland stopped supporting Turbo Basic
(and Turbo Prolog) over a year ago. At least to the maker of this language,
the handwriting was on the wall.

Jeff Bowyer
University of Nebraska at Omaha
(5) --------------------------------------------------------------23----
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 90 11:01:00 EST
Subject: 3.1217 trying BASIC, cont. (32)

The Microsoft QuickBASIC compiler (4.5) lists at $99, I think; street price is
about 65, though you can get it for much less than that if your campus
computer store (some institutions do have them!) has the right arrangement
with Microsoft. Borland sells Turbo Pascal 5.5 at an academic discount of
$49.95-- that gets you the full package (not the Professional developer's
package). TP 5.5 has the object-oriented extensions. I've not used it yet,
though I have a copy sitting on the shelf looking at me accusingly. I *have*
used QuickBasic, which is a structured language, and it's very nice, I think.
John Slatin
(6) --------------------------------------------------------------90----
Date: Tuesday, 27 March 1990 0901-EST
From: HUMM@PENNDRLS (Alan Humm Religious Studies U. of Penn)
Subject: more on BASIC, Pascal, C & Icon

After we finish talking about out preferences in Programming languages
I suggest that we re-open the discussion about whether Macs or PCs are
better, and after that we could talk about which religion is best
followed by a conclusive discussion of what policical parties we should
all adhere to.
Before moving on to those interesting topics, however, I thought I would
get in my two cents worth on languages.
Yes, BASIC has grown up in several forms including MS-Quick BASIC, Turbo
BASIC and the original designers' True BASIC. I would not be likely to
try to argue someone away from one of the new BASICs to another procedural
language like Pascal or C. However, I recall that one of the arguments
for using BASIC in a programming course was that it is free with most
systems ("free" meaning that you had no choice but to pay for it). The
BASIC languages that we have been lauding are NOT free. Nor or they bundled
with your system. The BASIC that you get with your Apple, Commodore, or
IBM *IS* "somehow a crude, old fashioned language". The drawback which
Roger Kenner notes, and which Bob Kraft re-notes is that it encourages
bad programming habits (even if the instructor does not) and the older
versions of BASIC virtually demand them. I would strongly recommend against
teaching an introductory programming course in BASIC.
For many of the same reasons, however, I would not teach introductory
programming in 'C'. 'C' is intended as a programming language for
programmers and it is incedently my main programming language right now,
but it is difficult to read and encourages programs that are difficult
to read. What it provides is an enormous amount of flexibility and
control to the programmer -- not, I would argue, what you want to give
to beginning programmers. (By the way, *I* can tell the difference between
'C' and either BASIC or Pascal at first glance -- I if I can read it at
all it is not 'C'. I can only imagine the horror of reading student
programs written in 'C' or BASIC).
I guess that leaves Pascal. I did my first programming is BASIC (old
BASIC) and I remember my horror at beginning my first programming class
and discovering that we had to learn Pascal. It was not long, however
before I discovered why. Pascal not only allows good programming
practice, it demands it. You can write bad programs in any language,
but you have to work harder to do it in Pascal. This is not accidental.
Pascal was designed specifically to be a language for teaching programming.
In fact, it was only in response to its popularity as a teaching
language, and the resultant large number new Pascal programmers that
it grew up into a full blown development language, largely due to
Borland's Turbo Pascal. Pascal has grown up with programming in the
80's and now even sports "Object Oriented Programming" features (there
are also OOP 'C's, but I do not know if there are OOP BASICs -- there
probably will be). It is true that you cannot write a one line program
in Pascal as you can in BASIC, but the overhead is not that great.
I believe that dynamic variables is one of the features of BASIC that
encourages bad programming because it fails to teach data typing (variable
declaration is the primary overhead in Pascal as against BASIC). The
rest of the Pascal overhead comes from procedure declaration -- impossible
in the older BASICs, but an essential lesson in good programming practice.
I no longer program very much in Pascal, but I recognize that learning
it was an important part of my development as a programmer. You should not
rob your students of that opportunity.
Of course, I am sure that there are other good languages for teaching
purposes, but these are the ones with which I am most familiar.
I assume that you are not considering teaching a REAL Objected Oriented
programming language like Smalltalk or Actor because you are not yourself
familiar with any of them. This is a wise decision as long as you remain
unfamiliar with them -- you cannot teach them as you learn them on the fly
(unlike some languages). But you should remedy that situation. I have
never taught programming with an OOP, but I would like to.
A final note on costs: There is a shareware Icon available from PC-SIG
in Texas, or I suppose that you could get it from us (CCAT@PENNdrls) as
it is shareware, but I am not an Icon programmer, so I don't know how good
it is. There are also shareware versions of both Pascal and 'C' (so they
are also 'free'), but the commercial versions are sufficiently better as
to justify the cost. For the IBM there is an extremly nice 'C' compiler
called "Power C" from MIX software (they advertise ubiquitously) for only
$20. I believe GW-BASIC may cost more than that. You can also get a
state of the art debugger to go with it for only another $20 (a fact which
almost persuades me to teach with 'C' in spite of my comments above).
We have MS-C 5.1 but usually use Power C for development. Turbo Pascal
costs no more than the new BASICs, although the debugger is extra, and
should be used by students if possible. It is a shame that most of the
debuggers are so expensive, since new programmers probably need them more
than anyone else.

Alan Humm (Humm@PENNdrls)
(7) --------------------------------------------------------------50----
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 90 12:56:44 CST
From: "Robin C. Cover" <ZRCC1001@SMUVM1>

ICON Programming Language (response)

> Date: Mon, 26 Mar 90 10:50:49 MST
> From: koontz@alpha.bldr.nist.go
> Subject: ICON for MS/DOS
>> ... there is a public domain version of SNOBOL4 and of Icon
>> for MS-DOS.
> RE: Icon, this is interesting news! How can I get it?

Several implementations of ICON may be downloaded over the
Internet ( or = arizona.edu (/icon
subdirectory, or via BBS 602-621-2283.

A free newletter <cit>The ICON Newsletter</> is also available
from the ICON group:

ICON Project
Department of Computer Science
Gould-Simpson Building
The University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721
FAX: 602-621-4246

A new book on ICON has also been published recently:

Alan D. Corre, <cit>Icon Programming for Humanists</>

"The above book is now available. Order from any bookstore. Be
sure to get one with the shrink wrap cover, because it contains a
disk. They did distrubute some originally without the disk.

The author is one of our own HUMANISTS, I think:

Alan D. Corre
Department of Hebrew Studies
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (414) 229-4245
PO Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201

submitted by Robin Cover
(8) --------------------------------------------------------------44----
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 90 13:24:08 MST
From: koontz@alpha.bldr.nist.gov
Subject: Icon for MS-DOS

Forwarded message follows:
Return-Path: <corre@csd4.csd.uwm.edu>
Received: from csd4.csd.uwm.edu by alpha.bldr.nist.gov (4.1/SMI-DDN)
id AA14821; Tue, 27 Mar 90 09:30:46 MST
Received: by csd4.csd.uwm.edu; id AA04995; Tue, 27 Mar 90 10:29:23 -0600
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 90 10:29:23 -0600
From: Alan D Corre <corre@csd4.csd.uwm.edu>
Message-Id: <9003271629.AA04995@csd4.csd.uwm.edu>
To: koontz@alpha.bldr.nist.gov
Subject: Icon for MS-DOS

You can get icon from the Icon development group at the University of
Arizona -- or coopy it from a friend, it's public domain.

You might like to have my new book
Icon Programming for Humanists
ISBN 0-13-450180-2

Prentice Hall, 1990.

It has quite a bit on the MS-DOS implementation.

Icon is now available for the mac in a proprietary version with a complete
development system. I am reviewing this in a forthcoming issue of C_Hum.

Vivat Icon.