Rich kids are into COBOL

Dave G4UGM dave.g4ugm at
Sat Feb 28 03:23:00 CST 2015

> -----Original Message-----
> From: cctalk [mailto:cctalk-bounces at] On Behalf Of ANDY
> Sent: 28 February 2015 07:38
> To: General Discussion: On-Topic and Off-Topic Posts
> Subject: Re: Rich kids are into COBOL
> > (about B and C)
> > Its history is deeper than that. Its part of a family of bracketed languages
> that started with BCPL which became "B" and then "C".
> > BCPL was written for the IBM7090.
> I think you are mistaken about this - BCPL was an implementation language
> for CPL mainly on the Atlas computers.
> It was originated by Martin Richards - who is still a supporter – see

I don't think we are in total disagreement. I also thought it was written at Cambridge for Atlas but the the Wiki page:-

says the first implementation was when Martin was working at MIT for the 7090.  

As WIKIs can be wrong, I googled around a bit, and that turned up the MIT TX-2 BCPL manual at BITSAVERS :-

which says that in 1969 it was running on Project MAC but not yet on the Atlas, and also on the GE635 which later became the Honeywell 6000 and Level 66 series, on which I had my first baptism of fire with structured languages, being introduced to "B". I also think this was the same "B" that ran on Xerox kit, as I believe they were also used at MIT...

<<<extract from TX-2 BCPL manual>>>>

1 .0 Introduction

BCPL is a general purpose recursive programming language which is particularly suitable for large non-numerical problems in which machine independence is an important factor. It was originally designed as a vehicle for compiler construction and has, so far, been used in three compilers. 

BCPL is currently implemented and running on eTSS at Project MAC, the GE 635 under GE COS and on a KDF 9 at Oxford. Other implementations are under construction for MULTICS, the ICT 1900 series I Atlas I the System 360, and the TX-2. The language was originally developed and implemented by M. Richards at Project MAC.

<<<end of extract from TX-2 BCPL manual>>>>

Dave Wade

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