Architectural diversity - was Re: Pair of Twiggys

Rich Alderson RichA at
Fri Mar 17 14:07:37 CDT 2017

From: ben
Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2017 6:28 PM

> On 3/16/2017 5:16 PM, Bill Gunshannon via cctalk wrote:

>> From: Chuck Guzis
>> Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2017 6:08 PM

>>> And people who weren't there can't understand why FORTRAN was the closest
>>> thing to a "portable" language...

>> Not even close to COBOL.  :-)

Preach it, brother!

> But was FORTRAN that portable?


> Other than the IBM 1130 I cannot think of a small computer that had ample I/O
> and memory to run and compile FORTRAN. All the other 16 bitters seem to more
> paper tape I/O.

The PDP-8 family has compilers for both FORTRAN II and FORTRAN IV.  16 bits?
What could we possibly do with all that address space? ;-)

> I suspect 90% of all university computers ended up as IBM 360 systems. A few
> ended up with the VAX, but who knows what they ran.

FORTRAN.  FORTRAN D (DOS/360), F and G (OS/360), which were FORTRAN IV
compilers (retronamed "Fortran 66").  VAX/VMS Fortran 77, except most VAXen of
the day you seem to be talking about ran BSD Unix and Fortran was handled by

I learned FORTRAN IV on an IBM 1401, a decimal computer, before moving on to
PL/1 and COBOL (and FORTRAN) on the System/360.

FORTRAN was, and still is, widespread, even if it doesn't look anything like
itself these days.


Rich Alderson
Vintage Computing Sr. Systems Engineer
Living Computers: Museum + Labs
2245 1st Avenue S
Seattle, WA 98134

mailto:RichA at

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