Pascal not considered harmful - was Re: Rich kids are into COBOL

Ethan Dicks ethan.dicks at
Wed Feb 18 17:05:51 CST 2015

On Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 5:41 PM, Toby Thain <toby at> wrote:
> Pascal is somewhat under-rated (not to mention a litle ahead of its time, as
> it turns out). Maybe this is because, like Lisp, those who snark about it
> are too young to have used it :-)

I snark about Pascal all the time.  I encountered it in a professional
capacity in 1987.  My employer had two major projects.  One was a new
product, written in Pascal (because that's the language the guy he
hired to write the DOS app knew - I had to write some assembler stuff
for the heavy-lifting), and the other was adapting an existing
custom-built-project (an industrial ultrasonic inspection system) on
TSXplus for the PDP-11 where several jobs, written in Pascal
collected, munged, displayed, and printed the scans.  My task on that
one was to "double the scan density".  Where I learned to hate Pascal
was fighting with formatted I/O streams to support multiple file types
(numbers of "records" per scanline) in the same task.  To shorten the
story, the simplest way out of the tarpit was to dup the display code
and change 768 to 1536 everywhere it appeared and mod the scheduler to
kick the display request to the "display single density scans" task or
the "display double density scans" task as required.

Utterly trivial in languages that trust the programmer to handle
unformatted I/O.


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