PC Fortran (Was: Microsoft open sources GWBASIC

Fred Cisin cisin at xenosoft.com
Sat May 30 16:27:39 CDT 2020

>> One reaason why you don't hear much about that is because the first 
>> version of Microsoft Fortran for the PC wasn't real great.
>> It was written in Microsoft Pascal.

On Sat, 30 May 2020, John Foust via cctalk wrote:
> Really!
> How does this connect to Microsoft's FORTRAN-80 for CP/M circa 1977?

unrelated product, with no apparent connections, that I'm aware of.  The 
8080/Z80 FORTRAN-80 would have been a better starting point!
Bob Wallace wrote the original Microsoft Pascal; I don't know who wrote 
the Fortran, other than being told that it was written in Microsoft 
Pascal, and to avoid the run-time library.

In late 1978, Microsoft also announced a version of FORTRAN-80 for TRS80.
I ordered 3 copies, for resale, through Lifeboat (Shrewsbury NJ major 
distributor of CP/M, DR, and MS products).  For months, I got, 
"Oh, it was delayed, but your order just got shipped!".  (in spite of 
telling me each previous week that it had already just been shipped.)
In late February 1979, I drove with some friends from Berkeley to 
Lewistown Montana for the solar eclipse, but had to fly back due to work 
schedule.  Flew back by way of Seattle.  Had my friend Bob Wallace (who 
worked for Microsoft) meet me at the airport during my layover; he 
brought me three copies at the airport.  (Serial #1,2,3, or maybe it was 
10001, etc.)

I delivered copies to the community college district, where I was 
teaching part-time, just in time for the start of their class.

They contacted me a couple of days later; the instructor typed in the 
first demo program in the manual, and it SYNTAX ERROR'd out.
"The compiler doesn't work."
I pointed out a missing comma in the listing of the sample program in the 
manual, and that fixed it.
"Well, it's no good if even the manual has errors."
That was pretty much my only/last contact with FORTRAN-80

In Fall 1983, that instructor managed to get hired at Cal State Hayward.
I got a call from the department chair, Wil Price, whom I knew well, at 6 
PM,  "Can you teach Fortran?"
"I think so."
"Great.  You start tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM in room D252.  Park in the 
visitor lot, and see me after class for a parking permit."
Another call at about 8:30, "Can you handle more than one section?"
"OK, we'll have to 'LTS' ('long term sub') you to be 'full-time' 
When they held formal hiring for the full-time tenure-track position, a 
year later, I got it.
Eventually tenure, etc.
Over the next decade, I created additional courses.  C, Microcomputer 
Disk Operating Systems (CP/M,TRSDOS,AppleDOs, but mostly MS-DOS), 
Microcomputer (8088) Assembly Language, Desktop Publishing, Data 
Structures And Algorithms, Introduction To The Internet, etc.

The PC Fortran, written by Microsoft and distributed by IBM was an 
unrelated product.  I think that it might be:
We used the PC Fortran on a couple dozen 5150s in the 
school lab.  It worked quite well for teaching beginners; I would not have 
wanted to use it for anything real-world.
I heard that a few years later, it was rewritten, and MUCH better, so my 
gripes about it aren't valid for the later products.

Grumpy Ol' Fred     		cisin at xenosoft.com

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