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Arcibald Wearlot

Old programming languages

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I used c++ for years, and I thought it would be interesting to get to know some other (older) languages too, such as BASIC, COBOL, Fortran, or Pascal (I used pascal at school for some time but in a really basic way) I'd like to know your opinion. Do you think I can actually learn something useful exploring those languages? Are they still used? And, what compilers are currently available for the Win32 platform? Thanks!

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Some languages guaranteed to expand your mind:

Lisp (or Scheme)
Prolog
Objective Caml (ha, had to get that one in there ;))
Haskell
Clean
Smalltalk
Python
Ruby
Self
Forth
Eiffel
Erlang

These are toys, but if you go in depth into the theory of languages they are of interest:

Brainf**k
Whitespace

(If you want to learn BASIC, learn OCaml first and write an interpreter for BASIC, it'll be an interesting project :))

EDIT: forgot these

[Edited by - JuNC on November 26, 2004 2:59:25 PM]

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Quote:
Original post by Arcibald Wearlot
I used c++ for years, and I thought it would be interesting to get to know some other (older) languages too, such as BASIC,
COBOL, Fortran, Pascal (I used pascal at school for some time but in a really basic way)
I'd like to know your opinion. Do you think I can actually learn something useful exploring those languages?

There's no point learning BASIC. Everything that was good about BASIC (and that's not much) you can get from modern scripting languages like Python, Ruby or Perl.

For something that is derived from BASIC, but isn't actually anything like it, you have Visual Basic.

Standard COBOL is hediously verbose and lacks important features taken for granted in modern programming languages, such as dynamic memory management and recursion. There are 'modern' versions of COBOL which provide those features, but I still would not recommend using them.

Fortran was and in some people's opinions still is, preferable to C/C++ for heavy numeric work. However, it isn't the most beautiful of languages. I wouldn't recommend using it.

Pascal is just a bad version of C. I doubt you'd learn anything from it.
Quote:

Are they still used?

Yes. But not (usually) for new programs -- they are used because old programs are written in them, and still need to be maintained.

As dman1027 quite correctly observed, Lisp is the language you want. It's difficult to describe exactly how wonderful Lisp is. I highly recommend reading On Lisp, a classic of the genre, now available for free!

JuNC reminds me. Although I find it almost entirely useless, Haskell is still a great language. In addition, the way that Icon handles conditions and iteration is initially mindbending but ultimately elegant.

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C/C++
Well, C and C++ are the best programming languages you can use for most of applications you can develop.

Pascal
Pascal/Delphi is my favourite programming language just because I know the language very good. I can easy make any program I want using Pascal. Unfortunately I'm not that good in C/C++...

Fortran
Even I have never wrote a program using Fortran, I know that is (was) very good for arithmetic calculations. Nowadays I thing C/C++ can do very good.

COBOL
Just for the record I write COBOL programs to make the living (!!!). You DON'T want to learn this language

BASIC/VB
It seems uselless to learn BASIC, C++ can do much more!

If you want something new try PROLOG or LISP.

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Quote:
Original post by JuNC
(If you want to learn BASIC, learn OCaml first and write an interpreter for BASIC, it'll be an interesting project :))


i dont know ocaml, but i wish if u (or anyone) could explain
why u picked ocaml for developing an interpreter

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To gain some algorithmic thinking, try searching for something like
"Robot Karel" ... don't know, whether there is some english version, i know just about slovak and czech versions of this "interpreter"... it's not classical prg. language, but kind of Logo language, where you don't have variables and need to do whatever you can using recursion and simple conditions. But in it's simplicity it it's power and requires you to think, think and think about basic problems solved in unusual ways.

one of implementations of a friend of mine is here:
http://www.karel.sk/Karel%202010rc2.zip

i just am not really sure, whether it has slovak interface or english... if you want to try, or search google for "Robot Karel", there are many links regarding it...

Have fun :)
m.

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Quote:

i dont know ocaml, but i wish if u (or anyone) could explain
why u picked ocaml for developing an interpreter


OCaml is virtually designed to be a compiler-implementation friendly language. It also compiles to extremely fast native code - occasionally rivalling C compilers - and has a good garbage collector (which makes it highly suitable for implementing interpreters).

You could of course use any language to do this, I just happen to particularly like OCaml as a practical and pragmatic functional (as in FP, not as in 'working' ;) language.

Quote:

Well, C and C++ are the best programming languages you can use for most of applications you can develop.


Bleugh. C is useful in kernels and being a LCD, C++ has virtually no redeeming qualities other than being a de-facto standard (and admittedly that is quite a big advantage!).

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