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Little Known Computer Languages (Author Unknown)

Topic: programming

Little Known Computer Languages (author unknown)

From the Pi Mu Epsilon Journal, Volume 8, #9, 1983

PASCAL, FORTRAN, COBOL -- These programming languages are well known and (more or less) well loved throughout the computer industry. There are numerous other languages, however, that are less well known yet still have ardent devotees. In fact, these little known languages generally have the most fanatic admirers. For those who wish to know more about these obscure languages -- and why they are obscure -- we present the following catalog:

SIMPLE -- SIMPLE is an acronym for Sheer Idiots Monopurpose Programming Linguistic Environment. This language, developed at the Hanover College for Technological Misfits, was designed to make it impossible to write code with errors in it. The statements are, therefore, confined to BEGIN, END, and STOP. No matter how you arrange the statements, you can't make a syntax error.

SLOBOL -- SLOBOL is best known for the speed, or lack of it. Although many compilers allow you to take a coffee break while they compile, COBOL compilers allow you to travel to Bolivia to pick the coffee. Three or four programmers are known to have died of boredom sitting at their terminals while waiting for a SLOBOL program to compile. Weary SLOBOL programmers try to return to a related (but infinitely faster) language, COCAINE.

VALGOL -- From its modest beginnings in Southern California's San Fernando Valley, VALGOL is enjoying a dramatic surge of popularity across the industry. VALGOL commands include REALLY, LIKE, WELL, and Y'NOW. Variables are assigned with the =LIKE and =TOTALLY operators. Other operators include the "California Booleans," FERSURE and NOWAY. Repetitions of code are handled in FERSURE loops. Here is a sample VALGOL program.















VALGOL is characterized by its unfriendly error messages. For example, when the user makes a syntax error, the interpreter displays the message GAG ME WITH A SPOON!

LAIDBACK -- Historically, VALGOL is a derivative of LAIDBACK, which was developed at the (now defunct) Marin County Center for T'ai Chi, Mellowness and Computer Programming, as an alternative to the more intense atmosphere in nearby Silicon Valley. The center was ideal for programmers who liked to soak in hot tubs while they worked. Unfortunately, few programmers could survive there for long, since the Center outlawed pizza and RC Cola in favor of bean curd and Perrier. Many mourn the demise of LAIDBACK because of its reputation as a gentle and nonthreatening language. For example, LAIDBACK responded to syntax errors with the message: SORRY, MAN, I CAN'T DEAL WITH THAT.

SARTRE -- Named after the late existential philosopher, SARTRE is an extremely unstructured language. Statements in SARTRE have no purpose, they just are. Thus, SARTRE programs are left to define their own functions. SARTRE programmers tend to be boring and depressed and are no fun at parties.

FIFTH -- FIFTH is a precision mathematical language in which the data types refer to quantity. The data types range from CC, DUNCE, SHOT, and JIGGER, to FIFTH (hence the name of the language), LITER, MAGNUM, and BLOTTO. Commands refer to ingredients such as CHABLIS, CHARDONNAY, CABERNET, GIN, VERMOUTH, VODKA, SCOTCH, and WHATEVERSAROUND. The many versions of the FIFTH language reflect the sophistication and financial status of its users. Commands in the ELITE dialect include VSOP and LAFITE, while commands in the GUTTER dialect include HOOTCH and RIPPLE. The latter is a favorite of frustrated FORTH programmers who end up using this language.

C -- This language was named for the grade received by its creator when he submitted it as a class project in a graduate programming class. C is best described as a "low level" programming language. In fact, the language generally requires more C statements than machine code statements to exercise a given task. In this respect, it is very similar to COBOL.

LITHP -- This otherwise unremarkable language is distinguished by the absence of an "S" in its character set. Programmers and users must substitute "TH". LITHP is said to be useful in prothething lithtth.

DOGO -- Developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Obedience Training, DOGO heralds a new era of computer-literate pets. DOGO commands include SIT, STAY, HEEL, and ROLL OVER. An innovative feature of DOGO is "puppy graphics," a small cocker spaniel that occasionally leaves a deposit as he travels across the screen.

FOCUSALL -- a language designed to run on small DEC machines with minimal memory. Its only supported distribution is paper tape, for loading in from an ASR-33 teletype. This takes 20 minutes, after which the user is greeted with the message:


The interpreter is then ready to accept any valid command. The only valid command is:


which causes the system to once again load the interpreter from paper tape. The power of the language comes from the fact that preceding a command with a statement line causes it to be stored as a program line for later execution as in the following example:




PINBOL -- PINBOL is best known for the chance involved in making its program run. Three tries at running are allowed, after which the message "GAME OVER. INSERT QUARTER AND TRY AGAIN" is displayed. Some allowable PINBOL instructions and their meanings are:

LEFT FLIPPER Illogical Left Shift

RIGHT FLIPPER Illogical Right Shift

SHOOT Try to Run

PINBOL is known to be extremely addictive. Those who are fluent PINBOL programmers are known as PINBOL WIZARDS.

FASTBOL -- commonly known as QUICKIE. Error messages include "COMPUTUS INTERRUPTUS." A closely related language is NOONER.

GERITOL -- This language is characterized by the habits of its ardent users. Instructions frequently forget their function while executing and conclude with the "I USED TO KNOW THAT" condition code. Loops tend to repeat frequently at sporadic intervals, even when not initiated.

NEW-RIGHT -- This language is political oriented and the designated memory is THE-RANCH. COMMIES (program bugs) are removed with the GRENADA command. A REAGAN program commences with LANDSLIDE and terminates with SENILITY. This language was developed in California, but is now widely used in Washington, D.C. It is the current subset of the international bureaucratic language known as DOUBLESPEAK. Commands include REVENUE-ENHANCEMENT, STOCKMAN, CAPWEINBERGER, MALCOMB-BALDRIDGE, CABINET, CHOP-WOOD, LAXALT and SCENARIO. WATT and BURFORD have been removed from the commands, while there is a current effort to add MEESE.

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