Algol & MTS / was Re: Bootstrappable language

Brent Hilpert hilpert at
Thu Dec 11 16:14:16 CST 2008

Paul Koning wrote:
> >>>>> "Brent" == Brent Hilpert <hilpert at> writes:
>  Brent> We were taught Algol in 1st year Comp Sci, I quite liked it
>  Brent> (except for the verbosity of "BEGIN"-"END") for it's
>  Brent> regularity, but that may have something to do with it being
>  Brent> the first structured language I experienced (various
>  Brent> assemblers and BASICs prior). Waterloo version - I believe it
>  Brent> was something near Algol 68, running in batch (cards) under
>  Brent> MTS.
> Near Algol-68?  Hm.  Algol-68 was a pretty rare beast, and quite
> thoroughly different from Algol-60.  Much harder to implement, too.
> (Then again... I have alisting -- tech report -- of an Algol-68
> interpreter written in Algol-60.  Maybe I should scan that one?)
>  Brent> PASCAL was used in 2nd year - seemed like a step backwards.
> Hm, I wouldn't have said that.  Did a bunch in Algol-60 (my first
> language, too) and some years later in Pascal, having traveled through
> Fortran and Basic and PL/I in between.  I would say Pascal is every
> bit as good as Algol-60 -- a few missing things added, and a  few
> mistakes removed.  Both have sane syntax, quite unlike the absurdities
> of C, or (almost but not quite as bad) PL/I.

I could be quite wrong about the "near 68". I just pulled out the textbook we
used ("FANGET AN - an algolw primer"/1978), so the language was actually
"AlgolW". It doesn't discuss the relationship to -60 or -68, so I don't know.

I'm presuming the W is for Waterloo but I could be confusing that with WATFIV
(Waterloo Fortran IV) that we also used, as well.

It was all 30 years ago and I haven't used either Algol or Pascal since, but as
I recall there was some limitation around Pascal that bugged me.

(I tend to prefer curly-brace languages over BEGIN-END languages, but that's
just another religious argument... )

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