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

drlegendre . drlegendre at
Wed Feb 18 19:20:12 CST 2015

I was introduced to Pascal in a high-school AP computer science course ca.
1986. It was a real eye-opener, and seemed quite powerful after only using
BASIC and the occasional chunks of borrowed 6502 ASM.

Personally, I thought it was an excellent teaching language - at least for
HS students in the late 1980s. I really enjoyed learning to use it - though
as someone who'd had almost ten years' time with BASIC, I found the
emphasis on recursive (sub-)routines to be a bit difficult to grasp.
Something about it just seemed... kludge-y. But functions were a very
welcome addition..

Of course, I've forgotten it all!

On Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 5:05 PM, Ethan Dicks <ethan.dicks at> wrote:

> 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.
> -ethan

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