Rich kids are into COBOL

Chuck Guzis cclist at
Thu Feb 19 12:11:32 CST 2015

On 02/19/2015 06:24 AM, Peter Corlett wrote:

> C will run on all sorts of bizarre machines, but somebody has to bother to
> implement it, and if the architecture is weird enough that the language has to
> be contorted in unexpected ways, it will break assumptions made in typical C
> code. ISTR that current versions of the standard assume a binary machine that
> provides particular word width, but earlier versions give much more
> flexibility.

Do let me know when you've got C for an IBM 1620.  SIMH has a pretty 
good emulator for that machine.

> That modern compilers don't support obsolete machines isn't a surprise. I can't
> find a decent modern C compiler that targets m68k, for example, even though
> that architecture is still just about clinging on to life.

Again, one needs to ask "why are they considered obsolete now and not 
then?"  For example, if IBM could have simplified the 7000-series 
machines to a single 7090-type architecture, they could have saved money 
by not implementing the 7070, 7080, etc.

C is a great high-level assembly language for a certain class of 
architectures, I will admit.

The problem with C (and to a lesser extent C++) is the lack of typing by 
usage.  Does an int hold a character, boolean value, index, bit sequence 
or what?  You can alleviate this to some extent with typedefs, but that 
doesn't seem to be all that prevalent.  Indeed, one indicator of that 
problem is the "nUxi" problem when early developers were porting that 
particular OS code.

C does well with character addressing, particularly if a word/int is an 
integral multiple of characters in length.  But not so well with 
bit-addressing, even though bit-addressable architectures can be very 
useful (as in vector machines).

But if you think you can work out a C for the 1620, please have at it. 
Be careful with numeric blanks and record marks...


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