AIr MAteriel COmmand compiler 

AIr MAteriel COmmand compiler. Data processing language, modification of FLOW-MATIC by John Jones of Air Materiel Command to run on UNIVAC 1105.

"Withdrawn in favour of COBOL"

Related languages
B-0 => AIMACO   Extension of
AIMACO => COBOL   Evolution of
AIMACO => SHARE Information Algebra   Influence

  • The AIMACO compiling system--preliminary manual. Air Materiel Command (May 29, 1958). view details
  • Asch, Alfred. 1959 July 29. Minutes of Committee Meeting on Data Systems Languages Held at Bureau of Standards, June 23-24. (Cited in Sammet 1978) view details Extract: Languages examined by CODASYL
    An important decision of the committee was to agree (Asch, 1959) "that the following language systems and programming aids would be reviewed by the committee: AIMACO, Comtran [sic], Flowmatic [sic], Autocoder III, SURGE, Fortran, RCA 501 Assembler, Report Generator (GE Hanford) , APG-I (Dupont)"
  • Data Systems Plans Division. Directorate of Plans and Programs. "The Air Material Command Compiler for Electronic Data-Processing Equipment (AIMACO)" AMCM 171-2, June 30 1959. Headquarter, Air Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base view details
  • Miller ER and Jones JL "The Air Force Breaks through the Communications Barrier" UNIVAC Review Winter 1959 view details
  • Jones, John L "A COBOL Processor for The Univac 1105" view details Extract: AIMACO and COBOL
    The programming problems listed earlier caused another significant sequence of events to transpire. Roughly two and one-half years ago, AMC jointly with the Sperry Rand Corporation embarked on an automatic programming project which gained considerable interest. This was the AIMACO project, which was to develop a compiler to translate English language into machine code for the Univac 1105. This language and many of the techniques used were based upon the Flowmatic compiler developed for the Univac I by Dr. Grace Hopper.
    The story of AIMACO, its trials, tribulations, and so on would in itself make a long story. Suffice it to say that
    1. AIMACO was completed, and was used successfully by a large number of programmers in AMC.
    2. It gained acceptance as a good approach and technique by virtually all of the skeptics in AMC.
    3. It made at least some progress in demonstrating the five basic objectives of the project:
    (a) that the communications problems between operating management and programming groups could be materially helped by the use of the English language as the programming language;
    (b) that the AMC could more effecively control the development of systems by this technique;
    (c) that the schedule for implementing systems could be reduced by such methods;
    (d) that the problem of systems modification would be eased because of the better documentation through AIMACO; and
    (e) that direct comparison of EDPS would be possible.
    Probably one other result of the project was that it very likely hastened the creation of the COBOL effort. The AMC recognized that COBOL represented a logical sequel to the AIMACO project. While AIMACO was designed originally for the 1105, it was intended from the start to produce a similar compiler for the IBM 705. However, with the emergence of COBOL, these plans were changed, so that COBOL was planned to become a common language for computers. This was reasonable primarily because AIMACO and COBOL had the same basic concepts. COBOL had the obvious advantage3 of stemming from a considerably broader background, because of the time factor, as well as being a voluntary effort in which all the major manufacturers were involved.
    COBOL is a more sophisticated language than AIMACO, particularly in the area of allowing program iteration with address modification. So when one of our major data systems was scheduled to be converted to the 1105, the question arose, "Should we use AIMACO or try to get a COBOL compiler?" For several reasons, it was decided that a crash effort would be made to prepare a COBOL compiler. The decision hinged not only on the sophistication of the language, but also upon the fact that most of the compiling for the 1105 in AIMACO was done on a Univac I.
    The project got underway officially at a meeting of AMC personnel in April 1960. Involved were three people from our Sacramento installation, one person from our Rome, N.Y., installation, one person from the Dayton Air Force Depot installation, and three people-from Headquarters, AMC. Although small in number, these eight were all experienced in the AIMACO project.
    The purpose of this meeting was to analyze the COBOL report and select those elements of COBOL we thought made up a minimum required language, review the definition of these parts to be sure all concerned understood them, establish specifications for the compiler, and assign individual jobs to the personnel. Needless to say, considerable thought had gone on before this meeting. The group decided on the following approach:
    1. The input-output generator and USE assembly system would remain the same as it was in AIMACO. These pieces were operational on the 1105, were operating very well, and represented a significant amount of effort.
    2. To cut down compiling time, sorts would be used whenever possible to arrange that data for "straight-through" processing.
    3. To cut down debugging time, the generative technique used to produce the end coding would be designed to localize the major part of the logical manipulation in one place commonly used by all other generators.
    4. AIMACO would be used to the fullest extent possible to reduce programming and debugging time further.
    One other reason for using AIMACO is also worth mentioning. When a routine is programmed in AIMACO, it is very nearly a subset of a COBOL routine. Therefore, we would be able to get our compiler into its own language with considerably less effort than if we had used machine code.
          in Proceedings of the 1960 Computer Applications Symposium, Armour Research Foundation, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois view details
  • Sammet, Jean E "1960 Tower of Babel" diagram on the front of CACM January 1961 view details

          in [ACM] CACM 4(01) (Jan 1961) view details
  • Weik, Martin H. "A Third Survey of Domestic Electronic Digital Computing Systems" Rpt 1115, BRL, Maryland, 1961 view details External link: Online copy at Computer History Museum Extract: LARC details
    Univac LARC is designed for large-scale business data processing as well as scientific computing. This includes any problems requiring large amounts of input/output and extremely fast computing, such as data retrieval, linear programming, language translation, atomic codes, equipment design, largescale customer accounting and billing, etc.

        University of California
        Lawrence Radiation Laboratory
        Located at Livermore, California, system is used for the
        solution of differential equations.
    Outstanding features are ultra high computing speeds and the input-output control completely independent of computing. Due to the Univac LARC's unusual design features, it is possible to adapt any source of input/output to the Univac LARC. It combines the advantages of Solid State components, modular construction, overlapping operations, automatic error correction and a very fast and a very large memory system.
    Outstanding features include a two computer system (arithmetic, input-output processor); decimal fixed or floating point with provisions for double
    precision for double precision arithmetic; single bit error detection of information in transmission and arithmetic operation; and balanced ratio of high speed auxiliary storage with core storage.
    Unique system advantages include a two computer system, which allows versatility and flexibility for handling input-output equipment, and program interrupt on programmer contingency and machine error, which allows greater ease in programming.
          in [ACM] CACM 4(01) (Jan 1961) view details
  • McGee, William C. "The property classification method of file design and processing" pp450-458 view details Abstract: Introduction
    A problem of continuing concern to the computer programmer is that of file design: Given a collection of data to be processed, how should these data be organized and recorded so that the processing is feasible on a given computer, and so that the processing is as fast or as efficient as required? While it is customary to associate this problem exclusively with business applications of computers, it does in fact arise, under various guises, in a wide variety of applications: data reduction, simulation, language translation, information retrieval, and even to a certain extent in the classical scientific application. Whether the collections of data are called files, or whether they are called tables, arrays, or lists, the problem remains essentially the same.

    The development and use of data processing compilers places increased emphasis on the problem of file design. Such compilers as FLOW-MATIC of Sperry Rand , Air Materiel Command's AIMACO, SURGE for the IBM 704, SHARE'S 9PAC for the 709/7090, Minneapolis- Honeywell's FACT, and the various COBOL compilers each contain methods for describing, to the compiler, the structure and format of the data to be processed by compiled programs. These description methods in effect provide a framework within which the programmer must organize his data. Their value, therefore, is closely related to their ability to yield, for a wide variety of applications, a ,data organization which is both feasible and practical.

    To achieve the generality required for widespread application, a number of compilers use the concept of the multilevel, multi-record type file. In contrast to the conventional file which contains records of only one type, the multi-level file may contain records of many types, each having a different format. Furthermore, each of these record types may be assigned a hierarchal relationship to the other types, so that a typical file entry may contain records with different levels of "significance." This article describes an approach to the design and processing of multi-level files. This approach, designated the property classification method, is a composite of ideas taken from the data description methods of existing compilers. The purpose in doing this is not so much to propose still another file design method as it is to emphasize the principles underlying the existing methods, so that their potential will be more widely appreciated.
          in [ACM] CACM 5(08) August 1962 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
  • Sammet, Jean E. "Computer Languages - Principles and History" Englewood Cliffs, N.J. Prentice-Hall 1969. p.378. view details
          in PL/I Bulletin, Issue 6, March 1968 view details
  • Sammet, Jean E., "Programming languages: history and future" view details
          in [ACM] CACM 15(06) (June 1972) view details
  • 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 18 view details Abstract: PREFACE  AND  INTRODUCTION
    The exact number of all the programming languages still in use, and those which are no longer used, is unknown. Zemanek calls the abundance of programming languages and their many dialects a "language Babel". When a new programming language is developed, only its name is known at first and it takes a while before publications about it appear. For some languages, the only relevant literature stays inside the individual companies; some are reported on in papers and magazines; and only a few, such as ALGOL, BASIC, COBOL, FORTRAN, and PL/1, become known to a wider public through various text- and handbooks. The situation surrounding the application of these languages in many computer centers is a similar one.

    There are differing opinions on the concept "programming languages". What is called a programming language by some may be termed a program, a processor, or a generator by others. Since there are no sharp borderlines in the field of programming languages, works were considered here which deal with machine languages, assemblers, autocoders, syntax and compilers, processors and generators, as well as with general higher programming languages.

    The bibliography contains some 2,700 titles of books, magazines and essays for around 300 programming languages. However, as shown by the "Overview of Existing Programming Languages", there are more than 300 such languages. The "Overview" lists a total of 676 programming languages, but this is certainly incomplete. One author ' has already announced the "next 700 programming languages"; it is to be hoped the many users may be spared such a great variety for reasons of compatibility. The graphic representations (illustrations 1 & 2) show the development and proportion of the most widely-used programming languages, as measured by the number of publications listed here and by the number of computer manufacturers and software firms who have implemented the language in question. The illustrations show FORTRAN to be in the lead at the present time. PL/1 is advancing rapidly, although PL/1 compilers are not yet seen very often outside of IBM.

    Some experts believe PL/1 will replace even the widely-used languages such as FORTRAN, COBOL, and ALGOL.4) If this does occur, it will surely take some time - as shown by the chronological diagram (illustration 2) .

    It would be desirable from the user's point of view to reduce this language confusion down to the most advantageous languages. Those languages still maintained should incorporate the special facets and advantages of the otherwise superfluous languages. Obviously such demands are not in the interests of computer production firms, especially when one considers that a FORTRAN program can be executed on nearly all third-generation computers.

    The titles in this bibliography are organized alphabetically according to programming language, and within a language chronologically and again alphabetically within a given year. Preceding the first programming language in the alphabet, literature is listed on several languages, as are general papers on programming languages and on the theory of formal languages (AAA).
    As far as possible, the most of titles are based on autopsy. However, the bibliographical description of sone titles will not satisfy bibliography-documentation demands, since they are based on inaccurate information in various sources. Translation titles whose original titles could not be found through bibliographical research were not included. ' In view of the fact that nany libraries do not have the quoted papers, all magazine essays should have been listed with the volume, the year, issue number and the complete number of pages (e.g. pp. 721-783), so that interlibrary loans could take place with fast reader service. Unfortunately, these data were not always found.

    It is hoped that this bibliography will help the electronic data processing expert, and those who wish to select the appropriate programming language from the many available, to find a way through the language Babel.

    We wish to offer special thanks to Mr. Klaus G. Saur and the staff of Verlag Dokumentation for their publishing work.

    Graz / Austria, May, 1973
          in [ACM] CACM 15(06) (June 1972) view details
  • Sammet, Jean E. "The early history of COBOL" view details Abstract: This paper discusses the early history of COBOL, starting with the May 1959 meeting in the Pentagon which established the Short Range Committee which defined the initial version of COBOL, and continuing through the creation of COBOL 61. The paper gives a detailed description of the committee activities leading to the publication of the first official version, namely COBOL 60. The major inputs to COBOL are discussed, and there is also a description of how and why some of the technical decisions in COBOL were made. Finally, there is a brief “after the fact” evaluation, and some indication of the implication of COBOL on current and future languages.

          in SIGPLAN Notices 14(04) April 1979 including The first ACM SIGPLAN conference on History of programming languages (HOPL) Los Angeles, CA, June 1-3, 1978 view details