Bill Gunshannon bill.gunshannon at hotmail.com
Fri Jan 15 11:36:19 CST 2021

On 1/14/21 10:55 PM, Fred Cisin via cctalk wrote:
> On Thu, 14 Jan 2021, Chuck Guzis via cctalk wrote:
>> 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:
>> http://www.softwarepreservation.org/projects/apl/Books/197409_APL%20Star%20Reference%20Manual_19980800B.pdf 
> Thank you for that!
> You are right.  At the time, it simply never occured to me that anybody 
> would use it for anything other than matrix processing of scientific data.
> (MY view of the elephant)
> Yes, I suppose that somebody of sufficient skill COULD write accounting 
> software with it, . . .
> But why?

There was a company her in Scranton, PA that did a very complex
financials package in APL.  One of my students interned there
and enjoyed the work.  Wy, you say?  Probably better than encryption
for protecting the source code.  :-)

> And, one of the advantages of COBOL for business programming was the 
> possibility of checking somebody else's code.  APL was intrinsically 
> obfuscated code.

I  have known many APL programmers who would not agree with this.  When
I was doing COBOL and Fortran at West Point, NY we had an intern from
Marist College.  APL was their common instructional language and the
only one our intern knew when he started.

It was at West Point that I learned APL and I have since run it on
everything from a Micro to a mainframe.   Still have a version that
runs quite well on my TRS-80's.


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