Jay Maynard (jmaynard) wrote,
Jay Maynard

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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...)

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