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Language peer sets for TELCOMP:
United States
United States/1966
Designed 1966
1960s languages
Third generation
High Cold War
Genus Generation of JOSS II
Generation of JOSS II
JOSS family
Generation of JOSS II/1966
JOSS family/1966
Generation of JOSS II/United States
JOSS family/United States
Conversational/United States


Joss variant for remote computing 

alternate simple view
Country: United States
Designed 1966
Published: 1969
Genus: Generation of JOSS II
Sammet category: On-Line

for TELetype Computing

BBN JOSS variant

Developed to facilitate online programming as part of BBN's foray into creating subsidiary companies. The offshoot company itself was called TELCOMP, and operated in the area of Mass around BBN labs

Version 1 on the PDP-6 had no on-line storage for either programs or data (PDP-6 because JOSS-II was PDP-6). TELCOMP programs were normally input via a paper tape reader on a Teletype (such as the ASR-33) which would be connected to a PDP via a modem and acoustic telephone line. Data could be read from the paper tape reader or from the Teletype keyboard. Output was either printed to the Teletype or sent to the paper tape punch.

Used as part of the UCL Timeshare System, mentioned in Conversational Systems

Used by BBN by Feurzeig et al to do the research that led to the esatablishment of LOGO. (Although LOGO was ultimately implemented in LISP)

TELCOMP Commands (largely JOSS II)
A TELCOMP program was made up of numbered lines, each line referred to as a Step.
Steps were grouped into Parts. Each line contained one instruction.

DEMAND Read input from the teletype
DO PART Execute all of the steps in a numbered part
DO STEP Execute a single line
DONE Stop execution of current part and return to caller
IF Condition, suffixed to any instruction
FOR Loop, suffixed to any instruction
PLOT Type output to the teletype in the form of a graph
PRINT Print output to the teletype
READ Read input from the paper tape reader
SEND Send output to the paper tape punch
SET Assign a variable to the value of an expression
STOP Stop execution completely
TO PART Go to a specified part
TO STEP Go to a specified line
TYPE emulate input for stored code
; Comment, suffixed to any line
FORM A specification for formatted output

Related languages
BBN JOSS TELCOMP   Evolution of
TELCOMP FILECOMP   Augmentation of
TELCOMP LOGO   Written using
TELCOMP Tymeshare TELCOMP   Commercialisation of


  • Myer, T. H., (1966) Myer, T. H., "Manual for Users: TELCOMP Computation Service", Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc., Cambridge, Mass. (Oct., 1966).
  • Clapp (1967) Clapp, Lewis "Time-Sharing System Scorecard" Computer Research Corporation 1967
  • Myer, T. H. (1967) Myer, T. H. "TELCOMP manual" Cambridge, MA: Bolt Beranek and Newman 1967
  • O'Sullivan, Thomas C. (1967) O'Sullivan, Thomas C. "Exploiting the time-sharing environment" pp169-175 Extract: intro
          in [ACM] (1967) Proceedings of the 22nd national ACM conference 1967, Washington, D.C.
  • Greenes, R A; Pappalardo, A N; Marble, C W; Barnet (1969) Greenes, R A; Pappalardo, A N; Marble, C W; Barnett, G O "Design and implementation of a clinical data management system" pp469-485 Extract:
          in (1969) Computers and Biomedical Research 2(5) October 1969
  • Mulholland, KA (1969) Mulholland, KA "Software to translate TELCOMP programs into KDF9 ALGOL" pp221-224 Abstract Online copy Extract: Introduction Extract: Aims of the program Extract: The read procedure Extract: Types of instruction available in TELCOMP
          in (1969) The Computer Journal 12(3) 1969
  • Sammet, Jean E. (1969) Sammet, Jean E. "Computer Languages - Principles and History" Englewood Cliffs, N.J. Prentice-Hall 1969. p.217.
          in (1969) The Computer Journal 12(3) 1969
  • Barron (1971) Barron, DW "Approaches to conversation FORTRAN" pp123-127 Abstract Extract: Introduction Extract: City Conversational FORTRAN
          in (1971) The Computer Journal 14(1) 1971
  • Bull, G.M. (1971) Bull, G.M. and Packham, S.F.G., Time-Sharing Systems, McGraw-Hill, 1971 Abstract
          in (1971) The Computer Journal 14(1) 1971
  • Stock (1971) Stock, Karl F. "A listing of some programming languages and their users" in RZ-Informationen. Graz: Rechenzentrum Graz 1971 266 Abstract
          in (1971) The Computer Journal 14(1) 1971
  • Sammet (1972) Sammet, Jean E., "Roster of Programming Languages 1972" 286
          in (1972) Computers & Automation 21(6B), 30 Aug 1972
  • Stock and Stock (1973) Stock, Marylene and Stock, Karl F. "Bibliography of Programming Languages: Books, User Manuals and Articles from PLANKALKUL to PL/I" Verlag Dokumentation, Pullach/Munchen 1973 615 Abstract
          in (1972) Computers & Automation 21(6B), 30 Aug 1972
  • Kupka, I. and Wilsing, N. (1980) Kupka, I. and Wilsing, N. "Conversational Languages" John Wiley, 1980
          in (1972) Computers & Automation 21(6B), 30 Aug 1972
  • Feurzeig, W. (1984) Feurzeig, W. "The Logo Lineage" Extract: TELCOMP as the ancestor of LOGO Extract: LOGO based on LISP Onlne copy at the Atari Archives
          in Ditlea, Steve (ed) (1984) Ditlea, Steve (ed) "Digital Deli: The Comprehensive, User-Lovable Menu of Computer Lore, Culture, Lifestyles and Fancy by The Lunch Group & Guests" Workman Publishers: New York, 1984.
  • (1993) IEEE Oral history interview with Leo Beranak online copy Extract: TELCOMP
          in Ditlea, Steve (ed) (1984) Ditlea, Steve (ed) "Digital Deli: The Comprehensive, User-Lovable Menu of Computer Lore, Culture, Lifestyles and Fancy by The Lunch Group & Guests" Workman Publishers: New York, 1984.
    • Usenet posting by Etienne Cherdlu

      I remember using TELCOMP back in 1969 (27 years ago). We used it, via a dial
      up line, on a PDP-7 (TELCOMP II) and later on a PDP-10 (TELCOMP III).

      I don't remember much about the machines that we used other than that we
      leased time from a company called Time Sharing Limited of Great Portland Street,
      London. I also have a note from that time about on-line storage charges. It cost
      30p (about 45 cents) per 640 byte block per month!

      The family resemblance between TELCOMP and M is just about recognizable
      especially if you were familiar with MUMPS-11. [refer code example above]

      Comparison with M:

      1. No variable declaration. No data typing (String support in TELCOMP III?)

      2. Sparse local arrays. No globals. File I/O was conventional, I think.

      3. For loop construct.

      4. TYPE command identical to MUMPS-11

      5. Part/Step numbering identical to MUMPS-11

      6. Form Input/Output feature was unique to TELCOMP.

      7. Do label+offset still exists in M today.

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