Contributing to the world's insanity - Jay Maynard

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Friday, 11 November 2005


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1656 - Contributing to the world's insanity

Once upon a time, there was a language called INTERCAL. It was originally written in 1972, in SPITBOL (a dialect of the SNOBOL4 programming language) on OS/360 at Princeton, by a couple of programmers who are, supposedly, still trying to live it down. They thought they'd succeeded in the early 1990s, until hacker extraordinaire Eric Raymond revived it by writing a C compiler for it (rather appropriately named ick). INTERCAL has gained a small but devoted following of sick, twisted individuals.

Even so, being an old mainframe hacker, I longed to bring the original Princeton compiler back to life, as the Hercules community has done with OS/360 and MVS. This was spurred on when SPITBOL/360 was released under the GPL. All of the pieces were present to recreate the original environment - except for the compiler itself.

It appears that the missing piece - INTERCAL itself - may become available. There exists a complete set of listings on paper, although there does not appear to be a copy on tape. Even so, this compiler is historically important enough to warrant folks sitting down with paper listings and typing their fingers to the bone to resurrect it.

I hope that, one day, INTERCAL will become a standard part of the Turnkey MVS distribution. That way, interested programmers can experience the ...joy... of INTERCAL in as close to the original environment as possible. (Unfortunately, I doubt we can recreate the experience of using an 029 keypunch...)

current mood: [mood icon] mischievous
current music: Supertramp - Cannonball

(5 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:rbarclay
Date: - 0000
(Link)
You hate Debian, right?

waldner@fsck->~ $ apt-cache search intercal
clc-intercal - Compiler for the INTERCAL language
intercal - an INTERCAL de-obfuscator
[User Picture]
From:jmaynard
Date: - 0000
(Link)
Yup.

"yum search intercal" didn't turn up any hits, unfortunately.
[User Picture]
From:zarchasmpgmr
Date: - 0000
(Link)
Won't Volker actually have to use INTERCAL's powerful COMEFROM statement to load it into the distribution? After all, he can't actually go out and move it into the distribution.
[User Picture]
From:zarchasmpgmr
Date: - 0000
(Link)
Oh, and maybe not an 029 keypunch (the first one I learned to use), but how about an 026?
[User Picture]
From:foolscap001
Date: - 0000
(Link)
Well... probably you'd want to start from xterm, remap the keyboard, turn off backspacing (because you can't unpunch a column), play a sampled punch sound with each keystroke... Allowing for program drum cards would be fun.

Back in 1972-3, I actually got to use a 129, with an LED display of the current column number instead of the little pointer pointing at the column numbers printed on the base of the program drum.

INTERCAL... You know, there are some things too horrible to contemplate.

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