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View Poll Results: Which of these older languages is the coolest?
Fortran 19 24.36%
Pascal 39 50.00%
COBOL 10 12.82%
Ada 10 12.82%
Voters: 78. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 06-16-2009, 10:29 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by kaiser_suse View Post
The speed of graphics routines depends more on the implementation of the graphics library than on the language itself.
Well, I ended up implementing graphics-functions in Assembler, which worked a lot faster than the stuff Pascal offered.
Old 06-16-2009, 12:01 PM   #32
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About 25 years ago, there was a book called something like "Basic to Pascal", to convert Basic users from their evil ways. I seem to remember that the author dismissed the lack of a standard graphics package in the original Pascal on the grounds that no-one needed anything but text, unless they were writing games. Those were the days!

About that time I learned APL (on a Sinclair QL!), and that was seriously cool. The trouble was, I could never find anything to use it for.
Old 06-16-2009, 08:39 PM   #33
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Smile Pascal

Fortran was my first language, but I didn't like it. Then I learned Pascal and I loved it. This structured language was excellent to find the usual bugs you coded by mistake. But yes, the graphics were poor, and you used assembler for them.
Old 06-17-2009, 09:05 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by DavidMcCann View Post
About 25 years ago, there was a book called something like "Basic to Pascal", to convert Basic users from their evil ways.
I should note that not all Basics were created equal. The original Dartmouth Basic was, by 1975 or so, evolving into a clean structured language that had the simplicity of basic along with the constructs of languages like Pascal and also built in graphics. True Basic, which was a later development by the originators of Dartmouth Basic, was/is used in some math departments for programming assignments, because it's math results are all as they should be.

Bill (as in micro$oft) twisted and crammed Basic into a very small memory footprint and took a lot of other liberties with it. After that there were many cheap knock offs of Basic. That's where the bad reputation came from.
Old 06-17-2009, 09:44 AM   #35
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I voted for ADA because, in my opinion, it implements many of the features of several other languages and simplifies program verification.

If you'd had them on your list:
  • APL: Even in it's current incarnation as A+, APL is an extremely compact and versatile language. (When I was in college in 1965, I'd written a FORTRAN program for multivariate analisis of variance and covariance that was about 8500 statements long. It had a subtle bug in it's logic that I couldn't find, so I rewrote it in APL. The APL program was, IIRC, no more that 5 lines, and the bug was immediately obvious. Of course the APL implementation was hopelessly inefficient, and not usable as a production system.)
  • PROLOG: It has d'esprit quite different from other programming languages. (Frankly, I've never been able to do much with PROLOG, but I once had a boss that could do amazing thing in that language!)
  • LISP: Still being used, and well suited for many applications. (EMACS was originally written in LISP on the UNIX precursor, MULTICS, although it is now written in it's own dialect of LISP.)
  • ASM: Also still in use, and -- even if it's hardware specific -- well worth knowing by any serious professional programmer.
Old 06-17-2009, 11:04 AM   #36
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Although it is not on the poll, I am voting for Common Lisp. Simple syntax, good readability, fast as all-get-out and the fact that it is multi-paradigm just rocks.

However, so as not to digress from the topic at hand, I am going to vote for COBOL. I met a COBOL programmer about a year ago, and - jeez - he alluded to an inkling of what he makes just doing part-time COBOL programming for various banks and it was astounding; he looked as though he was living quite comfortably.

Just an observation: People who prefer those "older", niche languages (Lisp, COBOL, Ada, ...) they seem to be less abrasive in general conversation and generally nicer people (they smell better, too) *hee hee*.

EDIT: For me, "cool" lets you do something that doesn't grind on every nerve in your body (*cough*PHP*cough*) and still lets you have the monetary freedom to live well, outside of work.

Last edited by indienick; 06-17-2009 at 11:06 AM.
Old 06-17-2009, 11:33 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by reptiler View Post
Pascal is the only one of those which I have actually used, so my vote clearly goes to Pascal. We had a good time together, but it's graphics-routines were so damn slow...
First off, graphic routines were not a part of Pascal. I know that around 1988/1989 Borland released Turbo Pascal 4.0 which included graphic libraries.

When Pascal was published in 1970, it was designed as a programming teaching language. IO at that time was exclusively with punch cards, paper tape and line printers so there was not even a need for graphic routines. If a computer center or university had a plotter at all it certainly was not made available for computer students.

Introduction of Pascal was slow anyway. In 1978 I learned programming still using Algol 60, and Pascal was not available until the early 1980-ies for the IBM 370. In the computer center of the Delft Technical University in the Netherlands (not the least university) they had one Tektronics graphical terminal available. First you'd run your program (from punch cards) containing PLOT statements, from this a dataset(*) was created, and from the graphical terminal (when it was free) you could retrieve the plot dataset to view it on the terminal. When you made an error, you searched thru the punch cards to find the card containing the error, created a new punch card and rerun the program. So it is imaginable that Pascal had no graphical routines as part of the language. I am not even sure anymore whether the plotting libraries were available for Pascal, or that I did that from Fortran or Algol.


(*) A dataset is IBM speak for a file. My first dataset ever created took three weeks of careful studying, request for disk space, system administrator signatures and several fruitless attempts in IBM JCL before I actually created one single file.
Old 06-17-2009, 11:49 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by indienick View Post
Just an observation: People who prefer those "older", niche languages (Lisp, COBOL, Ada, ...) they seem to be less abrasive in general conversation and generally nicer people (they smell better, too) *hee hee*.
I've left the professional programming scene over a decade ago, but in general I agree with you. In *my* experience, of the 'old-school' programmers, 90% knows what they're talking about.
On the other extreme of this scale, my impression is that only 10% of Java programmers really know what they're talking about and blame the operating system / environment / hardware / economic crisis / etc. when something doesn't work.
These 10% are extremely capable professionals that make a good living.
Old 06-27-2009, 05:21 AM   #39
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didn't vote, cuz i've used only in classes & long ago.
never heard of ada. don't recall anything about basic and fortran.
pascal was nice (borland. nice tools, IMO). easy to read. same with C.
feel an allergic bias against lisp, because autolisp has tainted my impression. (where's LQ's vomit-smiley?)
i recall hearing of snobol and cobol, then (in the late 1990's) reading that corporations were digging corpses out of graves to fix the pre-y2k cobol :-)
Old 06-29-2009, 03:42 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by bsdunix View Post
"Ada was named after Ada Lovelace (18151852), who is often credited as being the first computer programmer."

Now that's cool!
But it came out of a "Military search" for a new standard "Military Language".
Old 06-30-2009, 12:07 AM   #41
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Just a follow-on to post #34 re not all BASICs created equal; that's certainly true.
VAX/VMS BASIC was (still exists on OPENVMS ?) a fully featured & compiled lang, equiv in functionality to FORTRAN, COBOL, C etc.
Quite a nice lang to work with actually.
Old 06-30-2009, 02:43 AM   #42
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Pascal, definitely.

My vote goes definitely to Pascal. I still have good memories by the time I was reading "Oh, Pascal!" in my student days buck in 1986.

I also recall stories about "Basic poisoning the mind", and I can tell you a different story, when as a student I took a summer job trying to teach kids some GW-BASIC. Having programmed only in Pascal for a couple of years, I was told that I could learn BASIC in a couple of days and then I realized that I could not create a single subroutine. Inserting a line was a nightmare, as you had to renumber everything and then loose all your calls. And on top of all there was no way to indent you code....

So what my boss had then said was that Pascal had poisoned my mind as well

Old 06-30-2009, 08:13 AM   #43
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Pascal is about the only one worth mentioning for doing anything. Mainly because you can do practically anything with Pascal. Most of those other (older) languages are either too cryptic to bother with or they are too limited on ways to accomplish things more than one or two ways. I like the fact that Pascal gives you a lot of freedom, yet enforces it's syntax so you don't mess up too bad. Even so, I'm not crazy about Delphi. I like the old DOS and Linux command-line versions. I get confused in the Delphi IDE even just trying to create a new class. Anyway, you don't see many people hauling around version of ADA very often, and even FORTRAN and COBOL are not wildly popular anymore, though I've at least tried a little programming in all of them.

Last edited by gmorris; 06-30-2009 at 08:17 AM.
Old 06-30-2009, 02:58 PM   #44
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It has to be Pascal. It's the only "Old" language that has grown with the times and works well on Linux 32/64,Win 32/64/CE, Mac OSX, FreeDos, ReactOS , ... Since Lazarus is written in FreePascal it extends Pascal to the best Cross Platform RAD tool. From GUI front-end to Text back-end, web development and every thing in between.
It's so cool that this "Old" language is kicking the "New" languages out the door. It's even better then C/C++ in a lot of cases.
Now that's cool for me.
Old 07-01-2009, 02:01 PM   #45
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Pascal has to win hands down unless you are a die-hard programmer from the 60's & 70's who just can't do without ol' FORTRAN or COBOL. Not that they aren't good languages for what they were intended, for math people FORTRAN was almost indispensable for the longest time. Just as good business apps were much more easily written in COBOL, etc. C++ took off pretty good for a while, and was powerful enough to handle just about anything, the problem was that it took a lot of time to write in C++ (and C was even worse) even for those who started with it. Handling all memory allocation is very tedious, even with just 640K! The OO features were a big breakthrough for those willing to learn and embrace them by abandoning regular C for C++, and those dedicated enough could turn out some serious quality software using C++. Personally, I was really annoyed by having to use those darned header files all the time, and it was especially troublesome during the DOS days unless you had a good IDE or quality editor. The first good programming language I found was Pascal. I was amazed at both the power and simplicity of it. A friend of mine at work gave me his copy, as he either didn't like it or couldn't figure it out. He also gave me his Turbo C++. A BASIC guy who could wield a little FoxPro, he just didn't have the drive to learn either one. I took it home and installed it, and for several days I spent 8 hrs. working, and about 7hrs. programming with Pascal. The rest of the time I either ate, drank, slept or took care of whatever other business there was. To this day I still have Turbo Pascal on my old 386 (last time I turned it on, it still worked!) as well as C++ and several cool assemblers. In a way though, I kind of like to fool with most of the computer languages, at least a little bit. I have VS2008 as well as RAD Studio, and even the Java IDE so I can do just about any job that I might find. I'd rather know enough of a language to write a decent app in it than to be proficient only in, say, VB6 or something. I do have quite a bit of experience with many of them, especially VB, Windows Scripting, Pascal, FoxPro, Office and a little Java/JS (including some web-page scripting as well; I'm pretty good with a little HTML and CSS as well). The only other really fun one is SQL!


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