TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Computing Caverns
Volume Number:1
Issue Number:6
Column Tag:Modula-2 and the Macintosh, PART II

The Caverns of Computing

By John R. Bogan, Microcomputing Consultant

The Caverns of Computing

S: January 26, 1985
E: February 14, 1985

Often I think of computing as an extraordinary, Real-Life, Adventure game beckoning the computer warrior to descend into a yawning cavern riddled with many dark and intriguing passageways all begging to be explored. At the “end” of each corridor there lies a treasure, usually small and mostly ordinary but sometimes great and wonderous. These treasures are all jewels of knowledge and enlightenment about the marvels of logic.

I honestly believe that we (the computing community) have barely scratched the surface of our particular Adventure and some of the passageways that extend in front of us obviously go on for miles, twisting and turning with many small and alluring side alleys to explore or ignore as we choose.

It is up to each of us to decide which of these passageways we will pursue and to sift through the myriad of clues we discover along the way to decide which treasures to seek. Last year about this time several of my favorite and well trod corridors of computing converged and I found at their juncture a wealth of riches. These corridors which I have eagerly explored for more than half a decade are low-cost professional microsystems, the Motorola 68000 and Pascal. All the clues I had accumulated these past five years told me there would be something special waiting when these paths crossed. The glittering jewel of logic I found at their confluence now occupies the position of honor on my desk. It is the Apple Macintosh.

The reason the Mac is such a valuable jewel is that it sheds a piercing light on such gloomy corridors as “user friendly” and “software integration” and “computing for the masses”. And as any Adventure fan knows any bright light is a most valuable tool in the caverns of computing. As an early Macintosh enthusiast who has eagerly watched the hi-res graphics, mice, windows, icons, pulldown menus and cut and paste integration passageways blossom into well mapped, well trod aisles of acceptance and imitation over the past year I could argue the wisdom and majesty of the Apple strategy and direction long after I ran out of rational things to say. After all the Mac is clearly the product of wizards and elfin folk who possess great magic (One look at Burrell Smith proves that). But the purpose of this column is not to look back and congratulate Apple that it made it this far but to use our new bright light to illumunate some of the dark passages that lie ahead of us.

Deep Background

It is one of the best kept secrets in Computer Science and Software Engineering (CSSE) that the proper role of High Level Languages (HLLs) is to permit and encourage wide ranging experimentation and evaluation of new ideas in a cost efficient and timely fashion. Since the time I learned the difference between FORTRAN and COBOL I have followed and participated in the religious wars over which computer language is Best and I have concluded that most of the time the arguments are largely irrelevant since they concentrate on the question - What language should our software be written in when it is shipped to the consumer? As someone who is more interested in exceptional software requiring extensive R&D I have consigned that question to the trash can. The microscope people who can focus only on maximizing speed and space will insist on Assembler (ASM). The puzzle fanatics will choose Forth. The compromisers who can’t quite give up the chance to get their hands dirty with a little register optimization will probably choose “C”. But the thoughful scientists and engineers in the R&D labs who desire to conserve the scarce R&D dollar and even scarcer R&D minute will choose - Modula-2.

Here’s Why

HLLs are invaluable because they permit the Software Engineer to build complex and innovative programs, which break new ground, in the shortest possible time and for the fewest R&D dollars. This means that within a given budget and deadline more ideas can be explored and evaluated and thus more progress can be made toward achieving an ideal piece of software. This is not a theory, it is an observation of the history of microcomputing. Let’s look at some of the most important software breakthroughs in the past few years and examine the language influences on the R&D of these milestone products.

o CP/M. Designed in large part in PL/M, a structured HLL. Responsible for the early success of 8080 and Z-80 S-100 small business systems.

o Visicalc. Designed largely in BASIC. Responsible for the immense success of the Apple //.

o Lotus 1 2 3. Cloned from MBA Context which was written in UCSD Pascal. Responsible for the flood of integrated software and the dominance of the IBM PC.

o UCSD Pascal P-system. Contributed to pull down menus and menu driven Operating Environments.

o Xerox Altos testbed. This system never made it into the commercial world at all yet it has to be considered the Grandfather of the graphic, iconic, windowed personal workstation. This system was developed in the HLL Mesa - a Pascal derivative.

o Apple LISA. The first commercial microcomputer to make it to the marketplace bearing the fruit of the Xerox Alto. LISA was designed and written in Pascal.

o Apple Macintosh. Designed in Pascal and translated into hand optimized ASM. The third milestone microcomputer, the most successful introduction of any professional micro at any time.

o Kildal’s GEM and Tramiel’s “Jackintosh”. Cloned from the Mac.

These are not idle opinions, this is not some wierd hallucination that can be dismissed with a snort and a wave of the hand, these are verifiable historical facts - which can not be ignored. They clearly illustrate the major role of HLLs and in particular - the structured language Pascal - in the software R&D labs throughout the micro world. The reason for this success is obvious and worth restating. With a structured HLL it is easy to break new ground and if this new ground is genuinely helpful and makes small computers more productive and easier to master then the consumer will eat them up.

Why are structured languages going to be the bright light of choice in the R&D labs of the micro world for the indefinite future? The answer lies in history and economics and logic.

Programming as Engineering

Back in the mid 1960’s computer specialists noticed a troubling trend. While hardware was getting exponentially cheaper, the cost of producing software was taking off as programs got more complex to take advantage of the improved hardware. The following graphic illustrates this point.

Following the realization that software costs were getting out of hand the computer industry gradually started to divert resources from the hardware side of the industry to the software side. Along with this attention came some discipline ... the discipline of engineering. A rough definition of engineering is that it is the art of measuring and optimizing resources.

Thus the productivity boys came in to the Data Processing departments with their legal pads and stopwatches. The metric (unit of measure) they decided on was the number of lines of code per day per programmer and to their horror here is what they found.

o The average programmer could crank out only ten lines of debugged code a day!

o It didn’t matter what language the programmers were coding in, if they were programming in Assembly the daily output was ten ASM statements, if the language was COBOL or FORTRAN - ten statements!

The first, and obvious, conclusion that was drawn was that the COBOL and FORTRAN programmers were ten to one hundred times more productive than the ASM programmers since each line of FORTRAN could generate ten lines of ASM and some lines of COBOL could generate 100 ASM statements. I believe that these widely reported results are in no small measure responsible for the fact that most large DP departments are now and forever locked into COBOL as their language of choice. So much for the benefits of Software Engineering!

But before we dismiss Software Engineering as merely the tool of the devil let’s look at what else was learned in their productivity studies.

When you ask a talented hacker how long he took writing a 1,000 line program don’t be surprised if he scratches his beard and replies, “Oh, I did that one night a couple of months ago.” This would seem to contradict the ten statement/day finding ... by orders of magnitude. But then ask your hacker how long he spent making his program bug-free. He might just reply, “Well, I expect to get the last bug out of it anytime now.” One night writing the code and two months debugging it, this is more common than you might think. Anyways this was the second major conclusion of the Software Engineers. The piechart below illustrates the traditional division of labor and hence cost in creating significant programs.

Careful study of the above graphic reveals just how obscene it is. In traditional programming two thirds of the effort, and money, goes into the toilet known as maintenance.

MODULE HanoiPuzzle;

(* Declare I/O from Modula-2 Standard Library *)
FROM Terminal IMPORT ClearScreen;
FROM InOut IMPORT WriteLn, WriteString, WriteCard, ReadCard,
                  Write;
  
CONST Start = “a”;
      Int = “b”;
      Finish = “c”;
      
VAR DiskCount: CARDINAL; Done: BOOLEAN;

(* Get number of disks or set terminate flag *)
PROCEDURE GetInput (VAR NumberOfDisks: CARDINAL;
                    VAR Quit: BOOLEAN);
BEGIN
   ClearScreen;
   WriteString(“Enter number of disks (between 3 and 9)”);
   WriteLn;
   WriteString(“To quit - enter number out of range”);
   WriteLn;
   ReadCard(NumberOfDisks);
   IF (NumberOfDisks < 3) OR (NumberOfDisks > 9)
      THEN Quit := TRUE
      ELSE Quit := FALSE
   END; (*IF*)
   ClearScreen;
END GetInput;

(* The recursive guts of the programs ... calculate moves. *)
PROCEDURE Hanoi(n: CARDINAL; StartNeedle, IntNeedle,
                 FinishNeedle: CHAR);
BEGIN
   IF n#0
      THEN
  Hanoi(n-1, StartNeedle, FinishNeedle, IntNeedle);
  WriteLn;
  WriteString(“Move disk -”);
  WriteCard(n,2);
  WriteString(“ from “);
  Write(StartNeedle);
  WriteString(“ to “);
  Write(FinishNeedle);
  Hanoi(n-1, IntNeedle, StartNeedle, FinishNeedle);
   END; (*IF*)
END Hanoi;

(* Mainline ... control main loop ... get input & do it. *)
BEGIN
   GetInput(DiskCount, Done);    
   WHILE NOT Done DO
      Hanoi(DiskCount, Start, Int, Finish);
      GetInput(DiskCount, Done);
   END; (*WHILE*)
END HanoiPuzzle.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

VOX 2.8.6 - Music player that supports m...
VOX just sounds better! The beauty is in its simplicity, yet behind the minimal exterior lies a powerful music player with a ton of features and support for all audio formats you should ever need.... Read more
MacUpdate Desktop 6.1.3 - Search and ins...
MacUpdate Desktop 6 brings seamless 1-click app installs and version updates to your Mac. With a free MacUpdate account and MacUpdate Desktop 6, Mac users can now install almost any Mac app on... Read more
ExpanDrive 5.4.1 - Access cloud storage...
ExpanDrive builds cloud storage in every application, acts just like a USB drive plugged into your Mac. With ExpanDrive, you can securely access any remote file server directly from the Finder or... Read more
Espionage 3.6.6 - Simple, state-of-the-a...
Espionage offers state-of-the-art encryption and plausible deniability for your confidential data. Sometimes, encrypting your data isn't enough to protect it. That's why Espionage 3 goes beyond data... Read more
Pinegrow Web Designer 2.94 - Mockup and...
Pinegrow Web Designer is desktop app that lets you mockup and design webpages faster with multi-page editing, CSS and LESS styling, and smart components for Bootstrap, Foundation, Angular JS, and... Read more
1Password 6.3.3 - Powerful password mana...
1Password is a password manager that uniquely brings you both security and convenience. It is the only program that provides anti-phishing protection and goes beyond password management by adding Web... Read more
Sublime Text 3126 - Sophisticated text e...
Sublime Text is a sophisticated text editor for code, markup, and prose. You'll love the slick user interface, extraordinary features, and amazing performance. Features Goto Anything. Use Goto... Read more
ForkLift 3.0 Beta 2 - Powerful file mana...
ForkLift is a powerful file manager and ferociously fast FTP client clothed in a clean and versatile UI that offers the combination of absolute simplicity and raw power expected from a well-executed... Read more
OmniFocus 2.7.1 - GTD task manager with...
OmniFocus helps you manage your tasks the way that you want, freeing you to focus your attention on the things that matter to you most. Capturing tasks and ideas is always a keyboard shortcut away in... Read more
CleanApp 5.1.1 - Application deinstaller...
CleanApp is an application deinstaller and archiver.... Your hard drive gets fuller day by day, but do you know why? CleanApp 5 provides you with insights how to reclaim disk space. There are... Read more

Leaf for Twitter (Social Networking)
Leaf for Twitter 1.0.1 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Social Networking Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Banner Saga 2 (Games)
Banner Saga 2 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: The epic award winning story-based role-playing game continues its emotional journey across a breaking world. Lead your Viking... | Read more »
Concrete Jungle (Games)
Concrete Jungle 1.16 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.16 (iTunes) Description: A follow up to the puzzle hit 'MegaCity'! Concrete Jungle is a new take on the city building genre that swaps micro-... | Read more »
5 great apps for the budget traveller
Travelling abroad, or even within your home country, has never been easier thanks to our handy smartphone companions. There are hundreds of apps on the market that promise to make your world journeys hassle-free, but we've selected five of the... | Read more »
Zip—Zap (Games)
Zip—Zap 1.01 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.01 (iTunes) Description: Touch to contract.Release to let go.Bring the clumsy mechanical beings home. · · · over 100 levelsno adsno in-app-purchases Zip—... | Read more »
Paperback: The Game (Games)
Paperback: The Game 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: You are an author trying to finish kitschy paperback novels. Complete Westerns, Science Fiction, Romance or even a Crime... | Read more »
How to Rule With a Firm Hand in My Majes...
My Majesty is a kingdom management sim not unlike August’s magisterial hit, Reigns. It’s essentially a reskin of developer Tigrido’s previous management sim, Dictator. As supreme ruler of the land, you must consult with a number of subjects to... | Read more »
Our 5 Favorite iMessage Sticker Packs
At long last, iMessage joins the ranks of messaging apps the likes of LINE and Whatsapp, adding an impressive collection of stickers. They’re a great way to add a little something extra to your daily conversations. [Read more] | Read more »
How to get past Vulture Island's tr...
Vulture Island is a colorful and quirky mish-mash of platforming and puzzles. It’s creative and fresh, but sometimes the game can throw a curveball at you, leaving you stuck as to how you should progress. These tips will help you explore smoothly... | Read more »
The new Clash of Kings is just for Weste...
If you’ve played the original Clash of Kings, you’ll probably recognise the city building, alliance forging and strategic battles in Clash of Kings: The West. What sets this version apart is that it’s tailor made for a Western audience and the... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple refurbished Mac minis available startin...
Apple has Certified Refurbished Mac minis available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $419 $80 off MSRP - 2.6GHz Mac... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $928...
Overstock has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $927.99 including free shipping. Their price is $171 off MSRP. Read more
Buying McLaren Would Give Apple Instant Car C...
Apple “iCar” rumors have waxed and waned over the years, piquing interest and speculation as to whether Apple is seriously interested in getting into the automotobile business, either in a joint... Read more
Aetna to Transform Members’ Consumer Health E...
Health care benefits company Aetna, which has an estimated 46.3 million clients, today announced a new initiative to revolutionize members consumer health experience by combining the power of iOS... Read more
USB-IF Announces USB Audio Device Class 3.0 S...
USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), the support organization for the advancement and adoption of USB technology, today announced the USB Audio Device Class 3.0 specification to establish USB Audio over... Read more
Clearance 12-inch 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks, App...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 12″ 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks available for $1189, or $410 off original MSRP. Apple will include a standard one-year warranty with each MacBook, and shipping is free... Read more
Logitech SmartDock and Skype For Business Com...
Logitech has announced Logitech SmartDock, an AV meeting room solution designed in collaboration with Microsoft. Logitech SmartDock works with Skype for Business and qualified devices, including... Read more
27-inch iMacs on sale for up to $220 off MSRP
B&H Photo has 27″ Apple iMacs on sale for up to $200 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 27″ 3.3GHz iMac 5K: $2099 $200 off MSRP - 27″ 3.2GHz/1TB Fusion iMac 5K: $1899.99 $... Read more
Apple Macs and iPads available for up to $300...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad using Apple’s Education Store and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free, and... Read more
Save up to $600 with Apple refurbished Mac Pr...
Apple has Certified Refurbished Mac Pros available for up to $600 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each Mac Pro, and shipping is free. The following... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Chicago...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Raleigh...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
User Support Specialist *Apple* Product Spe...
…Description:Ciber, Inc. is seeking a User Support Specialist - Apple Product Support in Nashville, TN!Responsibilities:Support, implementation, and upgrade of Read more
Restaurant Manager (Neighborhood Captain) - A...
…in every aspect of daily operation. WHY YOU'LL LIKE IT: You'll be the Big Apple . You'll solve problems. You'll get to show your ability to handle the stress and Read more
US- *Apple* Store Leader Program - Apple (Un...
…Summary Learn and grow as you explore the art of leadership at the Apple Store. You'll master our retail business inside and out through training, hands-on Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.