Chuck Guzis cclist at sydex.com
Thu Jan 14 21:43:13 CST 2021

On 1/14/21 6:42 PM, Fred Cisin via cctalk wrote:
> APL was terse.
> You could do amazing things with very short source code.
> Extremely well suited for scientific programming.
> (I used it on a timesharing terminal at Goddard Space Flight Center half
> a century ago)
> It had a lot of operators.  So much so that it had to expand the
> character set.  Typically, it was used on a Selectric based terminal,
> with a special type-ball, and added labels pasted on the keys.
> Unlike English based languages, such as FORTRAN or COBOL, anybody other
> than an APL programmer could not even guess what a line of APL did.

APL was difficult for those used to traditional programming languages,
not primarily because of the character set, but because it's basically a
vector/matrix programming language.

It's a different world from BASIC, for sure.

Neil maintained that its strength lay in thinking about things in a
non-scalar way.  I'll give him that--programming on STAR, where a scalar
was treated by the hardware as a vector of length 1 (and thus very slow
because of startup overhead) certainly led you toward thinking about
things in vector operations, just like APL.

Here's the APL*STAR reference manual:



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