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

Spotify 1.2.0.1165 - Stream music, creat...
Spotify is a streaming music service that gives you on-demand access to millions of songs. Whether you like driving rock, silky R&B, or grandiose classical music, Spotify's massive catalogue puts... Read more
Thunderbird 102.5.1 - Email client from...
As of July 2012, Thunderbird has transitioned to a new governance model, with new features being developed by the broader free software and open source community, and security fixes and improvements... Read more
Pinegrow 7.03 - Mockup and design web pa...
Pinegrow (was 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,... Read more
Adobe After Effects 2022 23.1 - Create p...
The new, more connected Adobe After Effects can make the impossible possible. Get powerful new features like a Live 3D Pipeline that brings CINEMA 4D scenes in as layers - without intermediate... Read more
SteerMouse 5.6.7 - Powerful third-party...
SteerMouse is an advanced driver for USB and Bluetooth mice. SteerMouse can assign various functions to buttons that Apple's software does not allow, including double-clicks, modifier clicks,... Read more
Wireshark 4.0.2 - Network protocol analy...
Wireshark is one of the world's foremost network protocol analyzers, and is the standard in many parts of the industry. It is the continuation of a project that started in 1998. Hundreds of... Read more
Adobe Premiere Pro 2022 23.1 - Digital v...
Adobe Premiere Pro is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $54.99/month. The price on display is a price for annual by-monthly plan for Adobe Premiere Pro only. Adobe Premiere... Read more
1Password 8.9.10 - Powerful password man...
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
FotoMagico 6.3 - Powerful slideshow crea...
FotoMagico lets you create professional slideshows from your photos and music with just a few, simple mouse clicks. It sports a very clean and intuitive yet powerful user interface. High image... Read more
Affinity Photo 1.10.6 - Digital editing...
Affinity Photo - redefines the boundaries for professional photo editing software for the Mac. With a meticulous focus on workflow it offers sophisticated tools for enhancing, editing and retouching... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

‘Awaken Legends: Idle RPG’ Celebrates th...
Awaken Legends: Idle RPG is adding its first update since the game was soft-launched in November, letting players get their hands on a new hero “Hera Valen". Players can also look forward to the Covenant of the Dark Knight event and the Wishing Well... | Read more »
‘Horizon Chase 2’ Japan World Tour Expan...
Horizon Chase 2 () from Aquiris is getting a major expansion today on Apple Arcade. The Japan World Tour expansion brings in 11 new races across 9 cities and it should be rolling out now as of this writing. I expect it to be available worldwide... | Read more »
Dark Fantasy Visual Novel ‘The 13th Mont...
Originally announced for release in August, The 13th Month from Japanese developer Kobayashimaru and publisher Kodansha released on PC via Steam worldwide this month. The dark fantasy visual novel that reimagines the classic Sleeping Beauty tale, is... | Read more »
Tom Clancey’s The Divison Resurgence ann...
Ubisoft has announced the latest Live Test dates for Tom Clancy’s The Division Resurgence, the hotly anticipated mobile entry in the Divison series. Starting December 8th and ending on the 22nd, the test will offer a huge amount of content for the... | Read more »
‘Easy Come Easy Golf’ New Update Adds St...
Easy Come Easy Golf () from Clap Hanz is one of my favorite games on Apple Arcade. It has been updated quite a bit since launch bringing in new modes and improvements. It recently launched on Nintendo Switch as well. | Read more »
Out Now: ‘Magic vs Metal’, ‘Suzerain’, ‘...
Each and every day new mobile games are hitting the App Store, and so each week we put together a big old list of all the best new releases of the past seven days. Back in the day the App Store would showcase the same games for a week, and then... | Read more »
SwitchArcade Round-Up: Reviews Featuring...
Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for December 7th, 2022. Today can be accurately described as Mikhail Madness, with a whopping four reviews from our pal-est of pals. Football Manager 2023 Touch, Wobbledogs, Soccer Story... | Read more »
Alchemy Stars celebrates 1 and a half ye...
It has been one and a half years since Alchemy Stars launched, and Level Infinite is celebrating in style with a host of new content. There will be a new story mission and even a store to explore, and a whole new mode for those budding idol... | Read more »
Fighting Game ‘Art of Fighting 2’ ACA Ne...
Last week, side-scrolling shooter Pulstar hit mobile platforms as the newest ACA NeoGeo series release from Hamster and SNK. Read Shaun’s review of it here. Today, fighting game Art of Fighting 2 has launched on iOS and Android. Art of Fighting 2... | Read more »
‘Genshin Impact’ Version 3.3 Update Now...
HoYoverse recently revealed the next major update for Genshin Impact (Free) in the form of version 3.3 ‘All Senses Clear, All Existence Void’. | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

New! Details on Verizon’s Christmas/Holiday p...
Verizon is offering discounts on iPhones, Apple Watch models, and iPads with specific promo codes as part of their Christmas/Holiday 2022 offerings. Codes are valid when adding a new line of service... Read more
Apple MagSafe accessories are back on Holiday...
Amazon has Apple MagSafe Chargers and Apple’s MagSafe Battery on sale for up to 24% off MSRP again as part of their Christmas/Holiday sale. Shipping is free, and all models are in stock: – MagSafe... Read more
13″ M2 MacBook Airs on sale again for the low...
Amazon has 13″ MacBook Airs with M2 CPUs in stock today and on sale for $150 off MSRP as part of their Christmas/Holiday Sale, prices start at $1049. Shipping is free. They are the lowest prices... Read more
Get an Apple 16″ MacBook Pro for $400 off MSR...
16″ MacBook Pros with Apple’s M1 Pro CPUs are in stock and on sale today at B&H Photo for $300-$400 off Apple’s MSRP for a limited time. Prices start at $2099 for M1 Pro models with 512GB or 1TB... Read more
Holiday clearance sale! Previous-generation A...
Amazon has 2nd generation 32GB and 64GB 4K Apple TVs with Siri remotes and 32GB Apple TV HDs on clearance sale for $80-$90 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and delivery is available in time for... Read more
Christmas sale at Verizon: Apple AirPods Pro...
Verizon has first-generation Apple AirPods Pro on sale for $159.99 on their online store as part of their continuing Christmas/Holiday sale. Their price is $90 off Apple’s original MSRP, and it’s the... Read more
New Christmas/New Years promo at Xfinity Mobi...
Switch to Xfinity Mobile and open a new line of service, and take $400 off the price of a new iPhone, no trade-in required, through January 10, 2023. The $400 is applied to your account as credits... Read more
Apple iPad Smart Keyboard Folio prices drop u...
Apple iPad Smart Keyboard Folio prices have dropped up to $60 off MSRP at Amazon and Walmart as part of their Christmas/Holiday sales. These are the cheapest prices currently available for these iPad... Read more
Today is the final day for Xfinity Mobile’s $...
If you switch to Xfinity Mobile and open a new line of service, they will take $500 off the price of a new iPhone, no trade-in required. This is the best no trade-in Cyber Monday Apple iPhone 14 deal... Read more
Amazon restocks 10.2″ 64GB 9th-generation iPa...
Amazon has Apple’s 9th generation 10.2″ 64GB WiFi iPads (Silver) in stock and on sale for $269.99 shipped as part of their Christmas/Holiday Sale. Their price is $60 off Apple’s MSRP. Free delivery... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Systems Administrator - JAMF - Activ...
…Administration **Duties and Responsibilities** + Configure and maintain the client's Apple Device Management (ADM) solution. The current solution is JAMF supporting Read more
Cashier - *Apple* Blossom Mall - JCPenney (...
Cashier - Apple Blossom Mall Location:Winchester, VA, United States (https://jobs.jcp.com/jobs/location/191170/winchester-va-united-states) - Apple Blossom Mall Read more
Omnichannel Associate - *Apple* Blossom Mal...
Omnichannel Associate - Apple Blossom Mall Location:Winchester, VA, United States (https://jobs.jcp.com/jobs/location/191170/winchester-va-united-states) - Apple Read more
Sephora Beauty Advisor - *Apple* Blossom Ma...
Sephora Beauty Advisor - Apple Blossom Mall Location:Winchester, VA, United States (https://jobs.jcp.com/jobs/location/191170/winchester-va-united-states) - Apple Read more
Operations Associate - *Apple* Blossom Mall...
Operations Associate - Apple Blossom Mall Location:Winchester, VA, United States (https://jobs.jcp.com/jobs/location/191170/winchester-va-united-states) - Apple Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.