Algol W [was: Microsoft open sources GWBASIC]

Paul McJones paul at
Wed May 27 14:45:42 CDT 2020

On May 27, 2020, Lars Brinkhoff <lars at> wrote:

> Al Kossow wrote:
>>> Algol W was from Eroupe?
>> Algol W was from Stanford, written by Wirth when he was there
> I wonder if there's any connection to Stanford's SAIL language?

Good question. I believe the answer is “Wirth was initially involved with both”. Here’s a bit of history in the Preface to a SAIL manual:

The  GOGOL  III compiler,  developed  principally by  Dan  Swinehart  at the
Stanford Artificial  Intelligence Project,  was the  basis for  the non-LEAP
portions  of SAIL.   Robert Sproull  joined Swinehart  in  incorporating the
features of LEAP The first version of the language was released in November,
1969.   SAIL's intermediate  development was  the responsibility  of Russell
Taylor,  Jim  Low,  and Hanan  Samet,  who  introduced  processes, procedure
variables, interrupts,  contexts, matching procedures,  a new  macro system,
and other features.   Most recently John  Reiser, Robert Smith,  and Russell
Taylor  maintained and  extended SAIL.   They added  a  high-level debugger,
conversion to TENEX, a print statement, and records and references.

And here’s a 1964 Stanford TimeSharing Project Memo by McKeeman and Wirth on Gogol:

Gogol is a simple, integer arithmetic language used under the PDP-1 time sharing system at Stanford. This memorandum includes the syntactical definition of the language and a number of sample programs as well as a brief description of the operational characteristics of the compiler. Gogol was designed to permit fast compilation of efficient machine code directly into memory. The speed of compilation together with the accessibility of the text editor make program de- bugging relatively rapid. The examples presented here plus the availability of the compiler should form an adequate basis for learning to use the language. More detailed information depends heavily on a knowledge of PDP-1 hardware.

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