Algol vs Fortran was RE: VHDL vs Verilog

Chuck Guzis cclist at
Mon Feb 8 18:27:50 CST 2010

On 8 Feb 2010 at 18:58, somebody wrote:

> > Here, here.  The thing that impressed me about FORTRAN (well, as as
> > science major, anyway) was that it could do complex numbers as a
> > *NATIVE* datatype!!  Now, I know for you OOP and C++ guys, custom,
> > exotic datatypes are a dime a dozen. But in 1980, I was sure glad I
> > could do complex math without all of the extra baggage that would
> > have been necessary if I had to use, say, BASIC-Plus.

Consider the vintage of FORTRAN--mainframes did not universally enjoy 
computation in binary, much less ones' versus twos' complement.   
Character sets were of differing content, collating sequence and 
character length.  Recursion as a permissable construct did not enter 
the language until fairly late (some systems lacked native stack 
facilities; the CDC 6000 series, like the PDP-8, simply stored a jump 
to the return address at the entry point of a subroutine).  I/O 
implementation could be wildly different.

ANSI X3 committee meetings were more like political conventions in 
some respects. I recall that when vector language features were being 
proposed for Fortran 8X (to become Fortran 90), the DEC and IBM 
contingent threatened to walk out of the proceedings because the 
committee decided not to simply assume IBM VECTRAN as its basis.

It's really amazing that FORTRAN/Fortran is still around.


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