* [COFF] Fate of CERN's PL-11 Language for the PDP-11
@ 2023-08-25 16:04 Clem Cole
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From: Clem Cole @ 2023-08-25 16:04 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Computer Old Farts Followers
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C, BLISS, BCPL, and the like were hardly the only systems programming
languages that targeted the PDP-11. I knew about many system programming
languages of those times and used all three of these, plus a few others,
such as PL/360, which Wirth created at Stanford in the late 1960s to
develop the Algol-W compiler. Recently, I was investigating something
about early systems programming languages, and a couple of questions came
to me that I could use some help finding answers (see below).
In 1971, RD Russell of CERN wrote a child of Wirth's PL/360 called PL-11:
Programming Language for the DEC PDP-11 Computer
<https://cds.cern.ch/record/880468/files/CERN-74-24.pdf> in Fortran IV. It
supposedly ran on CERN's IBM 360 as a cross-compiler and was hosted on
DOS-11 and later RSX. [It seems very 'CARD' oriented if you look at the
manual - which makes sense, given the time frame]. I had once before heard
about it but knew little. So, I started to dig a little.
If I understand some of the history correctly, PL-11 was created/developed
for a real-time test jig that CERN needed. While it was available in
limited cases, since BLISS-11 required a PDP-10 to cross-compile, it was
not considered (I've stated earlier that some poor marketing choices at DEC
hurt BLISS's ability to spread). Anyway, a friend at CERN later in the
70s/80s told me they thought that as soon as UNIX made it on the scene
there since it was interactive and more accessible, C was quickly
preferred as the system programming language of choice. However, a BCPL
that had come from somewhere in the UK was also kicking around.
So, some questions WRT PL-11:
1. Does anyone here know any (more) of the story -- Why/How?
2. Do you know if the FORTRAN source survives?
3. Did anything interesting/lasting get written using it?
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2023-08-25 16:04 [COFF] Fate of CERN's PL-11 Language for the PDP-11 Clem Cole
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