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simon collis

musings of an omnivorous biped

CoverSo why does this book exist? Surely there’s no doubt who invented the computer, right? I mean it was Babbage. Well, technically he invented the difference engine, which was a forerunner of the computer I suppose. Hmm. Then was it Turing? Although his work was entirely theoretical. Moore? No, that was microprocessors. Ah wait, I know.

Stop there. Before you say it. The right answer is John Vincent Atanasoff and Clifford E Berry, not – as I’m sure you were about to say – Eckert and Mauchly.

You see, back in the 1970s there was a court case over who actually invented the computer. Read more

BCPL: The Language and Its Compiler

Posted by Simon Collis on 2016/05/28
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Bcpl: The Language and Its CompilerBcpl: The Language and Its Compiler by Martin Richards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Published in 1981, I bought this when I saw it mentioned in an article on compilers, and someone mentioned this as being a model of what a book about a computer language should be.

It’s interesting to see the way in which this book works, and it’s probably a good model for low-level programming. A fascinating insight into a little-used language these days, and still quite readable even if you can’t get your head round BCPL. Modern programmers new to antique languages will find it strangely fascinating: no strings, no classes, no memory management. It’s about as low level as you can get, and yet there’s concepts in there (write once, run anywhere) that are bang up to date in the latest languages.

A fascinating read for anyone seriously interesting in the history of computing.

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/edit: I originally had the name as “BCPL: The Compiler and its Construction”. Doh.