The miracle of Pick was Re: OT: Punctuation-starved ProgrammingLanguages (and/or love starved programmers, starving programmers, ...)

Jay West jwest at
Wed Jun 21 19:15:44 CDT 2006

Cameron wrote...
> I have not found a good resource on the Pick language or the Pick virtual
> machine, other than a lot of name-dropping commercial sites. Any
> recommendations?

The best documentation on the Pick virtual machine - bar none - is "The 
Rainbow Book" as it is commonly referred to because of the front cover 
graphics (but that's not the name). The actual book is the "Reality by 
Microdata Assembly Language Reference Manual". It's the only book that 
really describes the guts. I believe I gave a copy to Al for bitsavers. In 
addition to that, I have probably about thirty plus (3 inch thick each) 
field engineer and internal only microdata binders. Awesome stuff :) Those 
will make it to bitsavers someday.

With regards to the Pick Language, that's kinda hard. The beauty of Pick was 
the really tight melding between the virtual assembler, basic, and the 
database. You really can't appreciate one of them separately. It's only when 
you see how tightly integrated all 3 were that the beauty of the design 
becomes apparent. In most versions of basic, one must go through gyrations 
to do any serious database work (at least, what appears to be gyrations to 
pick-ites). In most basics, working with the filesystem feels like wearing 
mittens. With Pick BASIC, database I/O is almost relegated to the background 
of the programmers mind.

That is also why Pick claims (and delivers) such rapid application 
development timeframes. Because programmers can write serious business 
applications so very quickly compared to most other systems - largely due to 
the way pick basic works with file I/O.


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