UNIVAC English language compiler 

Original name of FLOW-MATIC, Remington Rand. UNIVAC I or II ca. 1957.

1956 B-0 compiler by Grace Hopper's programming staff, UNIVAC [later called
Procedure Translator, & FLOW-MATIC]

People: Hardware:
Related languages
BIOR => B-0   Evolution of
C-10 => B-0   Compiled to
B-0 => AIMACO   Extension of
B-0 => D-0   Extension of
B-0 => Metropolitan Univac Compiler   Influence
B-0 => Procedure Translator   Renaming
B-0 => Q-0   Subset

  • Bemer, R. W. "The Status of Automatic Programming for Scientific Problems" view details Abstract: A catalogue of automatic coding systems that are either operational or in the process of development together with brief descriptions of some of the more important ones Extract: Summary
    Let me elaborate these points with examples. UNICODE is expected to require about fifteen man-years. Most modern assembly systems must take from six to ten man-years. SCAT expects to absorb twelve people for most of a year. The initial writing of the 704 FORTRAN required about twenty-five man-years. Split among many different machines, IBM's Applied Programming Department has over a hundred and twenty programmers. Sperry Rand probably has more than this, and for utility and automatic coding systems only! Add to these the number of customer programmers also engaged in writing similar systems, and you will see that the total is overwhelming.
    Perhaps five to six man-years are being expended to write the Alodel 2 FORTRAN for the 704, trimming bugs and getting better documentation for incorporation into the even larger supervisory systems of various installations. If available, more could undoubtedly be expended to bring the original system up to the limit of what we can now conceive. Maintenance is a very sizable portion of the entire effort going into a system.
    Certainly, all of us have a few skeletons in the closet when it comes to adapting old systems to new machines. Hardly anything more than the flow charts is reusable in writing 709 FORTRAN; changes in the characteristics of instructions, and tricky coding, have done for the rest. This is true of every effort I am familiar with, not just IBM's.
    What am I leading up to? Simply that the day of diverse development of automatic coding systems is either out or, if not, should be. The list of systems collected here illustrates a vast amount of duplication and incomplete conception. A computer manufacturer should produce both the product and the means to use the product, but this should be done with the full co-operation of responsible users. There is a gratifying trend toward such unification in such organizations as SHARE, USE, GUIDE, DUO, etc. The PACT group was a shining example in its day. Many other coding systems, such as FLAIR, PRINT, FORTRAN, and USE, have been done as the result of partial co-operation. FORTRAN for the 705 seems to me to be an ideally balanced project, the burden being carried equally by IBM and its customers.
    Finally, let me make a recommendation to all computer installations. There seems to be a reasonably sharp distinction between people who program and use computers as a tool and those who are programmers and live to make things easy for the other people. If you have the latter at your installation, do not waste them on production and do not waste them on a private effort in automatic coding in a day when that type of project is so complex. Offer them in a cooperative venture with your manufacturer (they still remain your employees) and give him the benefit of the practical experience in your problems. You will get your investment back many times over in ease of programming and the guarantee that your problems have been considered.
    The IT language is also showing up in future plans for many different computers. Case Institute, having just completed an intermediate symbolic assembly to accept IT output, is starting to write an IT processor for UNIVAC. This is expected to be working by late summer of 1958. One of the original programmers at Carnegie Tech spent the last summer at Ramo-Wooldridge to write IT for the 1103A. This project is complete except for input-output and may be expected to be operational by December, 1957. IT is also being done for the IBM 705-1, 2 by Standard Oil of Ohio, with no expected completion date known yet. It is interesting to note that Sohio is also participating in the 705 FORTRAN effort and will undoubtedly serve as the basic source of FORTRAN-to- IT-to-FORTRAN translational information. A graduate student at the University of Michigan is producing SAP output for IT (rather than SOAP) so that IT will run on the 704; this, however, is only for experience; it would be much more profitable to write a pre-processor from IT to FORTRAN (the reverse of FOR TRANSIT) and utilize the power of FORTRAN for free.
          in "Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Computer Applications Symposium" , Armour Research Foundation, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois 1957 view details
  • Gorn, Saul "Standardized Programming Methods and Universal Coding" view details Extract: Introduction
    It is possible so to standardize programming and coding for general purpose, automatic, high-speed, digital computing machines that most of the process becomes mechanical and, to a great degree, independent of the machine. To the extent that the programming and coding process is mechanical a machine may be made to carry it out, for the procedure is just another data processing one.
    If the machine has a common storage for its instructions along with any other data, it can even carry out each instruction immediately after having coded it. This mode of operation in automatic coding is known as 'interpretive'. There have been a number of interpretive automatic coding procedures on various machines, notably MIT's Summer Session and Comprehensive systems for Whirlwind, Michigan's Magic System for MIDAC, and IBM's Speedcode; in addition there have been some interpretive systems beginning essentially with mathematical formulae as the pseudocode, such as MIT's Algebraic Coding, one for the SEAC, and others.
    We will be interested, however, in considering the coding of a routine as a separate problem, whose result is the final code. Automatic coding which imitates such a process is, in the main, non-interpretive. Notable examples are the A-2 and B-O compiler systems, and the G-P (general purpose) system, all for UNIVAC, and IBM's FORTRAN, of the algebraic coding type.
    Although, unlike interpretive systems, compilers do not absolutely require their machines to possess common storage of instructions and the data they process, they are considerably simpler when their machines do have this property. Much more necessary for the purpose is that the machines possess a reasonable amount of internal erasable storage, and the ability to exercise discrimination among alternatives by simple comparison instructions. I t will be assumed that the machines under discussion, whether we talk about standardized or about automatic coding, possess these three properties, namely, common storage, erasable storage, and discrimination. Such machines are said to possess "loop control".
    We will be interested in that part of the coding process which all machines having loop control and a sufficiently large storage can carry out in essentially the same manner; it is this part of coding that is universal and capable of standardization by a universal pseudo-code.
    The choice of such a pseudo-code is, of course, a matter of convention, and is to that extent arbitrary, provided it is
    (1) a language rich enough to permit the description of anything these machines can do, and
    (2) a language whose basic vocabulary is not too microscopically detailed.
    The first requirement is needed for universality of application; the second is necessary if we want to be sure that the job of hand coding with the pseudo-code is considerably less detailed than the job of hand coding directly in machine code. Automatic coding is pointless practically if this second condition is not fulfilled.
    In connection with the first condition we should remark on what the class of machines can produce; in connection with the second we should give some analysis of the coding process. In either case we should say a few things about the logical concept of computability and the syntax of machine codes.
          in [ACM] JACM 4(3) July 1957 view details
  • Kinzler, Henry M; Moskowitz, Perry M "The Procedure Translator, A System of Automatic Programming" view details Abstract: The description of a fairly elaborate and complete system of automatic coding developed for the UNIVAC at Metropolitan Life by means of which a running program can be written in specialized English language. The advantages of such a system are listed as: (1) persons most familiar with management and business problems can translate their ideas from system flow Charts to running programs, (2) reduction in program preparation time, (3) Reduction in debugging time. The following disadvantages are also listed: (I) the need for a more comprehensive library of input-output generating routines, (2) the amount of machine time necessary for compiling, (3) care required in writing pseudo-code, (4) compiled programs may run slower than specially coded programs, (5) the use of English words requires more handwriting, typing, proofing, and greater opportunity for error than other compilers using symbols.
          in Automatic Coding, Monograph No. 3, Journal of the Franklin Institute Philadelphia, Pa., April 1957. view details
  • Rosen, Saul "Programming Systems and Languages: a historical Survey" (reprinted in Rosen, Saul (ed) Programming Systems & Languages. McGraw Hill, New York, 1967) view details Extract: Early UNIVAC languages
    The first large scale electronic computer available commercially was the Univac I (1951). The first Automatic Programming group associated with a commercial computer effort was the group set up by Dr. Grace Hopper in what was then the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corp., and which later became the Univac Division of Sperry Rand. The Univac had been designed so as to be relatively easy to program in its own code. It was a decimal, alphanumeric machine, with mnemonic instructions that were easy to remember and use. The 12 character word made scaling of many fixed-point calculations fairly easy. It was not always easy to see the advantage of assembly systems and compilers that were often slow and clumsy on a machine with only 12,000 characters of high speed storage (200 microseconds average access time per 12 character word). In spite of occasional setbacks, Dr. Hopper persevered in her belief that programming should and would be done in problem-oriented languages. Her group embarked on the development of a whole series of languages, of which the most used was probably A2, a compiler that provided a three address floating point system by compiling calls on floating point subroutines stored in main memory. The Algebraic Translator AT3 (Math-Matic) contributed a number of ideas to Algol and other compiler efforts, but its own usefulness was very much limited by the fact that Univac had become obsolete as a scientific computer before AT3 was finished. The B0 (Flow-Matic) compiler was one of the major influences on the COBOL language development which will be discussed at greater length later. The first sort generators were produced by the Univac programming group in 1951. They also produced what was probably the first large scale symbol manipulation program, a program that performed differentiation of formulas submitted to it in symbolic form.
          in [AFIPS JCC 25] Proceedings of the 1964 Spring Joint Computer Conference SJCC 1964 view details
  • Bemer, Robert W. "The PL/I Family Tree" view details Extract: Introduction
    The family tree of programming languages, like those of humans, is quite different from the tree with leaves from which the name derives.
    That is, branches grow together as well as divide, and can even join with branches from other trees. Similarly, the really vital requirements for mating are few. PL/I is an offspring of a type long awaited; that is, a deliberate result of the marriage between scientific and commercial languages.
    The schism between these two facets of computing has been a persistent one. It has prevailed longer in software than in hardware, although even here the joining was difficult. For example, the CPC (card-programmed calculator) was provided either with a general purpose floating point arithmetic board or with a board wired specifically to do a (usually) commercial operation. The decimal 650 was partitioned to be either a scientific or commercial installation; very few were mixed. A machine at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, number 3, was the first to be obtained for scientific work. Again, the methods of use for scientific work were then completely different from those for commercial work, as the proliferation of interpretive languages showed.
    Some IBM personnel attempted to heal this breach in 1957. Dr. Charles DeCarlo set up opposing benchmark teams to champion the 704 and 705, possibly to find out whether a binary or decimal machine was more suited to mixed scientific and commercial work. The winner led to the 709, which was then touted for both fields in the advertisements, although the scales might have tipped the other way if personnel assigned to the data processing side had not exposed the file structure tricks which gave the 705 the first edge. Similarly fitted, the 704 pulled ahead.
    It could be useful to delineate the gross structure of this family tree for programming languages, limited to those for compilers (as opposed to interpreters, for example).
    On the scientific side, the major chronology for operational dates goes like this:
    1951, 52      Rutishauser language for the Zuse Z4 computer
    1952      A0 compiler for Univac I (not fully formula)
    1953      A2 compiler to replace A0
    1954      Release of Laning and Zierler algebraic compiler for Whirlwind
    1957      Fortran I (704)
    1957      Fortransit (650)
    1957      AT3 compiler for Univac II (later called Math-Matic)
    1958      Fortran II (704)
    1959      Fortran II (709)
    A fuller chronology is given in the Communications of the ACM, 1963 May, 94-99.
    IBM personnel worked in two directions: one to deriving Fortran II, with its ability to call previously compiled subroutines, the other to Xtran in order to generalize the structure and remove restrictions. This and other work led to Algol 58 and Algol 60. Algol X will probably metamorphose into Algol 68 in the early part of that year, and Algol Y stands in the wings. Meanwhile Fortran II turned into Fortran IV in 1962, with some regularizing of features and additions, such as Boolean arithmetic.
    The corresponding chronology for the commercial side is:
    1956      B-0, counterpart of A-0 and A-2, growing into
    1958      Flowmatic
    1960      AIMACO, Air Material Command version of Flowmatic
    1960      Commercial Translator
    1961      Fact
    Originally, I wanted Commercial Translator to contain set operators as the primary verbs (match, delete, merge, copy, first occurrence of, etc.), but it was too much for that time. Bosak at SDC is now making a similar development. So we listened to Roy Goldfinger and settled for a language of the Flowmatic type. Dr. Hopper had introduced the concept of data division; we added environment division and logical multipliers, among other things, and also made an unsuccessful attempt to free the language of limitations due to the 80-column card.
    As the computer world knows, this work led to the CODASYL committee and Cobol, the first version of which was supposed to be done by the Short Range Committee by 1959 September. There the matter stood, with two different and widely used languages, although they had many functions in common, such as arithmetic. Both underwent extensive standardization processes. Many arguments raged, and the proponents of "add A to B giving C" met head on with those favoring "C = A + B". Many on the Chautauqua computer circuit of that time made a good living out of just this, trivial though it is.
    Many people predicted and hoped for a merger of such languages, but it seemed a long time in coming. PL/I was actually more an outgrowth of Fortran, via SHARE, the IBM user group historically aligned to scientific computing. The first name applied was in fact Fortran VI, following 10 major changes proposed for Fortran IV.
    It started with a joint meeting on Programming Objectives on 1963 July 1, 2, attended by IBM and SHARE Representatives. Datamation magazine has told the story very well. The first description was that of D. D. McCracken in the 1964 July issue, recounting how IBM and SHARE had agreed to a joint development at SHARE XXII in 1963 September. A so-called "3 x 3" committee (really the SHARE Advanced Language Development Committee) was formed of 3 users and 3 IBMers. McCracken claimed that, although not previously associated with language developments, they had many years of application and compiler-writing experience, I recall that one of them couldn't tell me from a Spanish-speaking citizen at the Tijuana bullring.
    Developments were apparently kept under wraps. The first external report was released on 1964 March 1. The first mention occurs in the SHARE Secretary Distribution of 1964 April 15. Datamation reported for that month:
    "That new programming language which came out of a six-man IBM/ SHARE committee and announced at the recent SHARE meeting seems to have been less than a resounding success. Called variously 'Sundial' (changes every minute), Foalbol (combines Fortran, Algol and Cobol), Fortran VI, the new language is said to contain everything but the kitchen sink... is supposed to solve the problems of scientific, business, command and control users... you name it. It was probably developed as the language for IBM's new product line.
    "One reviewer described it as 'a professional programmer's language developed by people who haven't seen an applied program for five years. I'd love to use it, but I run an open shop. Several hundred jobs a day keep me from being too academic. 'The language was described as too far from Fortran IV to be teachable, too close to be new. Evidently sharing some of these doubts, SHARE reportedly sent the language back to IBM with the recommendation that it be implemented tested... 'and then we'll see. '"
    In the same issue, the editorial advised us "If IBM announces and implements a new language - for its whole family... one which is widely used by the IBM customer, a de facto standard is created.? The Letters to the Editor for the May issue contained this one:
    "Regarding your story on the IBM/SHARE committee - on March 6 the SHARE Executive Board by unanimous resolution advised IBM as follows:
    "The Executive Board has reported to the SHARE body that we look forward to the early development of a language embodying the needs that SHARE members have requested over the past 3 1/2 years. We urge IBM to proceed with early implementation of such a language, using as a basis the report of the SHARE Advanced Language Committee. "
    It is interesting to note that this development followed very closely the resolution of the content of Fortran IV. This might indicate that the planned universality for System 360 had a considerable effect in promoting more universal language aims. The 1964 October issue of Datamation noted that:
    "At the SHARE meeting in Philadelphia in August, IBM?s Fred Brooks, called the father of the 360, gave the word: IBM is committing itself to the New Programming Language. Dr. Brooks said that Cobol and Fortran compilers for the System/360 were being provided 'principally for use with existing programs. '
    "In other words, IBM thinks that NPL is the language of the future. One source estimates that within five years most IBM customers will be using NPL in preference to Cobol and Fortran, primarily because of the advantages of having the combination of features (scientific, commercial, real-time, etc.) all in one language.
    "That IBM means business is clearly evident in the implementation plans. Language extensions in the Cobol and Fortran compilers were ruled out, with the exception of a few items like a sort verb and a report writer for Cobol, which after all, were more or less standard features of other Cobol. Further, announced plans are for only two versions of Cobol (16K, 64K) and two of Fortran (16K and 256K) but four of NPL (16K, 64K, 256K, plus an 8K card version).
    "IBM's position is that this emphasis is not coercion of its customers to accept NPL, but an estimate of what its customers will decide they want. The question is, how quickly will the users come to agree with IBM's judgment of what is good for them? "
    Of course the name continued to be a problem. SHARE was cautioned that the N in NPL should not be taken to mean "new"; "nameless" would be a better interpretation. IBM's change to PL/I sought to overcome this immodest interpretation.
    Extract: Definition and Maintenance
    Definition and Maintenance
    Once a language reaches usage beyond the powers of individual communication about it, there is a definite need for a definition and maintenance body. Cobol had the CODASYL committee, which is even now responsible for the language despite the existence of national and international standards bodies for programming languages. Fortran was more or less released by IBM to the mercies of the X3. 4 committee of the U. S. A. Standards Institute. Algol had only paper strength until responsibility was assigned to the International Federation for Information Processing, Technical Committee 2. 1. Even this is not sufficient without standard criteria for such languages, which are only now being adopted.
    There was a minor attempt to widen the scope of PL/I at SHARE XXIV meeting of 1965 March, when it was stated that X3. 4 would be asked to consider the language for standardization. Unfortunately it has not advanced very far on this road even in 1967 December. At the meeting just mentioned it was stated that, conforming to SHARE rules, only people from SHARE installations or IBM could be members of the project. Even the commercial users from another IBM user group (GUIDE) couldn't qualify.
    Another major problem was the original seeming insistence by IBM that the processor on the computer, rather than the manual, would be the final arbiter and definer of what the language really was. Someone had forgotten the crucial question, "The processor for which version of the 360? , " for these were written by different groups. The IBM Research Group in Vienna, under Dr. Zemanek, has now prepared a formal description of PL/I, even to semantic as well as syntactic definitions, which will aid immensely. However, the size of the volume required to contain this work is horrendous. In 1964 December, RCA said it would "implement NPL for its new series of computers when the language has been defined.?
    If it takes so many decades/centuries for a natural language to reach such an imperfect state that alternate reinforcing statements are often necessary, it should not be expected that an artificial language for computers, literal and presently incapable of understanding reinforcement, can be created in a short time scale. From initial statement of "This is it" we have now progressed to buttons worn at meetings such as "Would you believe PL/II?" and PL/I has gone through several discrete and major modifications.
    Extract: Introduction
    The family tree of programming languages,   like those of humans,   is quite different from the tree with leaves from which the name derives.

    That is,  branches grow together as well as divide,  and can even join with branches from other trees.    Similarly,   the really vital requirements for mating are few.    PL/I is an offspring of a type long awaited; that is,   a deliberate result of the marriage between scientific and commercial languages.
    The schism between these two facets of computing has been a persistent one.    It has prevailed longer in software than in hardware,  although even here the joining was difficult.    For example,   the CPC (card-programmed calculator) was provided either with a general purpose floating point arithmetic board or with a board wired specifically to do a (usually) commercial operation.     The decimal 650 was partitioned to be either a scientific or commercial installation; very few were mixed.    A machine at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company,  number 3,   was the first to be obtained for scientific work.    Again,   the methods of use for scientific work were then completely different from those for commercial work,  as the proliferation of interpretive languages showed.
    Some IBM personnel attempted to heal this breach in 1957.    Dr.  Charles DeCarlo set up opposing benchmark teams to champion the 704 and 705, possibly to find out whether a binary or decimal machine was more suited to mixed scientific and commercial work.      The winner led to the 709, which was then touted for both fields in the advertisements,   although the scales might have tipped the other way if personnel assigned to the data processing side had not exposed the file structure tricks which gave the 705 the first edge.    Similarly fitted,   the 704 pulled ahead.
    It could be useful to delineate the gross structure of this family tree for programming languages,  limited to those for compilers (as opposed to interpreters,  for example).

          in PL/I Bulletin, Issue 6, March 1968 view details