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UCSD Pascal – memories from the past….

Posted by jpluimers on 2013/07/10

Just found out that the kind people at BitSavers added some scanned USCD Pascal documentation in PDF format:

It reminds me of my early Pascal days on Apple ][. UCSD Pascal was so slow that I was glad to discover Turbo Pascal 1.0, which lacked some of the UCSD Pascal features (for instance cross platform – including Mac, almost 30 years ago! – and Turtle graphics), but was blazingly fast.

Trade offs indeed (:

–jeroen

10 Responses to “UCSD Pascal – memories from the past….”

  1. Thomas Pfister said

    great remembers…
    I used UCSD-Pascal on my TI-99/4A (16-bit) with a p-code-card in 1983.
    IMO UCSD Pascal is pretty feature-rich, for its time, of course.
    It’s also capable of running in a very limited amount of the memory (for youngsters here: we worked in kb-area only, the machine had 16KB combined video and “extended memory”, only 256 Bytes, called Scratch-Pad-RAM, available), and still compile programs that are pretty large.
    Finally, since it’s written in Pascal, it’s capable of compiling itself. However, Borland did indeed showed that compiling could be fast, when they introduced Turbo Pascal. Turbo Pascal 3/4 is at about the same level, as far as language support and functionality goes, as UCSD Pascal as it’s implemented on my TI-99/4A.

    wow a long time ago and somewhere UCSD-Pascal is still alive ?! (thanks to Jereon and google for pointing out and search): http://ucsd-psystem-vm.sourceforge.net

    • jpluimers said

      Thanks for the additions. Never had that TIhttp://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_Instruments_TI-99/4A
      When I have my apple IIe or IIc working and my floppies uploaded, I’ll try to follow up.

  2. rmhall said

    Back in 1983 I went to Harvard to work on a software engineering masters degree. They used DEC Pascal running on a VAX. Everything was from a terminal in a lab and compile times/debugging was extremely slow, plus we were charged CPU time. I used UCSD Pascal on my Apple ][ and wrote stubs to make it work like DEC Pascal. Once debugged and running, I would strip out the stubs and upload it to the VAX and start it compiling (300 baud modem, of course). Then I would get into my car, drive 30 miles, find a place to park in Cambridge. IF I was lucky, when I arrived, it was done compiling. When the course was over the Prof. called me in to explain how I had used so little CPU time.

    • jpluimers said

      LOL!
      I had a similar experience in the late 1980s.

      At Leiden University, we had a course “Computer Usage for Chemists” teaching Fortratn 66.
      My fellow students were behind Commodore PC-10 machines running Kermit VT-110 terminal emulation over a multiplexed serial connection (which they ran on an 8 wire ribbon cable that was like 150 meters long) to the VAX 11/750 machine.
      The connections were terrible, but I soon found out that at the floor right above the VAX 11/750 machine was a small room with 5 VT-220 terminals.

      Those had fast (9600 baud!) connections and had 132-column displays.

      I also found out that the VAX/VMS FORTRAN compiler was much more capable than FORTRAN 66, surpassing the FORTRAN 77 standard that they should have teached anyway.

      Finally I found out that you didn’t only have batch processing, but that with a simple trick you could have 3 interactive sessions from the same terminal.
      I used one for editing, another for compiling/linking and the final one for doing test-runs.
      So I could do stuff in parallel, which brought my develoment cycle back from about an hour to minutes, especially since I managed to scrpit most of the compile/link and test-run stuff (the VAX/VMS had a really powerful command-shell).

      The cycle was still not what I was used to with Turbo Pascal, but it was getting much closer.
      Since I did most of the work after hours (I usually got in the computer room after regular classes at around 1600, then left when the building was closing late at night), only few people suffered from me constantly using a few dozen % of CPU (:

      I took the most difficult assignment (given an input file with 3D atom positions, another one with min/max distances for various atom-atom combinations, find out which atoms had bonds, and what cyclic molecular structures were there).

      The cycle detection algorithm for assignment was inherently recursive, but FORTRAN does not do recursion (Pascal did, and it was a breeze solving it there).
      So I happily created a data structure based on staks with records, then simulated recursion, and was done in about 2 weeks of man hours.

      Those times were a lot of fun!

  3. Tim said

    UCSD Pascal ran very well on my North Star Horizon (which I still have, with its wooden case).

  4. Kimmo Lahtinen said

    It was also multilingual (I had Modula2 and I think some kind of Basic). I think the virtual machine compares quite well with java. Perhaps much less features but not so many problems.

    • jpluimers said

      On Apple ][ hardware, the UCSD was too slow to use (but indeed very stable). Later on x86 PC it was much better, but then I already was hooked to Turbo Pascal (:

  5. A. Bouchez said

    Those pascal implementation were slow at those times, because they were executed on a virtual machine!

    A few decades before Java or C#, this P-Machine was a precursor of managed code execution.
    Do you say “native”?
    :)

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