Algol 58/60

Paul McJones has been curating ALGOL section of Software Preservation Group. He notes:

I recently created an ALGOL section at the Computer History Museum’s Software Preservation Group web site, covering the language standardization efforts — for ALGOL 58 (also known as the International Algebraic Language), ALGOL 60, and ALGOL 68 — and also covering many implementations, dialects, and offshoots, complete with source code, manuals, and papers for many of these. The history of ALGOL has attracted many writers, and the final section of the web site links to many of their papers.

Also see his follow up blog about Whetstone ALGOL.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

teachable moments

Is there any opinion out there as to the conceptual benefits of studying ALGOL in the pure? For example, the early FORTRANs leveraged language restrictions to automatically produce highly optimized machine code. Such techniques still matter in the design of performance-centered languages as well as decision procedures over languages in general.

However, ALGOL's intellectual descendants have enormous and pervasive popularity, so I'm not sure there are many good pickings left. Am I wrong here? And if not, are there perhaps other benefits to be drawn here of a more abstract ilk, such as lessons on language standardization and feature bloat?

Touch in cheek, maybe

But it looks like it's still possible to get some mileage out of studying ALGOL...

Proving Hoare was right

That's quite the vindication of C. A. R. Hoare's classic remark on ALGOL:

Here is a language so far ahead of its time that it was not only an improvement on its predecessors but also on nearly all its successors.