VAX/VMS Pascal, Modula-3, Oberon, what could have been....

Mark Wickens mark at
Wed Nov 2 18:38:22 CDT 2016

I recently discovered the very excellent website devoted to all things Wirth.

I sent a message to the author, as detailed below, but I would encourage 
anyone to visit the website - you will surely learn something?

Greetings from Windermere in the Lake District, England!

I read with interest your interview with John Reagan. His efforts on the 
VAX Pascal Compiler, and more recently (well, in the last few years or 
so) my discovery of the very excellent Theo De Klerk book on VAX Pascal 
and it's excellent integration with the VMS operating system have 
rekindled my love of this excellent implementation of Pascal.

I am the organiser of - a 'mostly' annual event here in 
Windermere where collectors of DEC equipment and ex-employees gather to 
immerse themselves once again in the excellence of product that was the 
result of DEC Engineering. I have tried a couple of times to 'entice' 
John to provide a video narrative of his time at DEC - but, thankfully, 
he is still a very busy man.

At DEC Legacy this time around for example I was very fortunate to find 
myself in the 'programming zone' for a couple of hours - sat at a VT 
terminal, trying to determine why my VAX Macro-32 fractal generation 
programme would not run successfully on a DEC Alpha via the VAX Macro 
Compiler. For those precious moments I could have been sat at a piece of 
DEC equipment anywhere in the world. For a programmer this is just 
intoxicating and all too rare these days.

I have a long standing interest in the legacy of Wirth - and indeed DEC, 
as could be expected. When I was considering a programming language for 
my PhD efforts on a DEC 3000/600 AXP running Digital Unix 3.2C in 1994 I 
would have been better using Modula-3 and ignoring the C-based Khoros 
framework which was the path I eventual took (C was a 'better the devil 
you know' option at that point).

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