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Interview With Author of the First Spoof Language

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the spoof-language-real-beard dept.

Programming 102

An anonymous reader brings us Computerworld's interview with Don Woods, one of the creators of Compiler Language With No Pronounceable Acronym (INTERCAL). INTERCAL and its documentation were created in 1972 as a parody of that era's languages and instruction manuals. Among other things, Woods had this to say: "We designed the language without too much trouble. Writing the manual took a while, especially for things like the circuit diagrams we included as nonsensical illustrations. The compiler itself actually wasn't too much trouble, given that we weren't at all concerned with optimising the performance of either the compiler or the compiled code. I admit I'm surprised at its longevity. Some of the jokes in the original work feel rather dated at this point. It helps that the language provides a place where people can discuss oddball features missing from other languages, such as the 'COME FROM' statement and operators that work in base 3."

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FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24062927)

First post!

Bah! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24062937)

Intercal has nothing on Brainfuck [wikipedia.org] . Brainfuck makes every other spoof programming language look like a joke. I'd write the Hello World! program here, but Slashdot's content filter doesn't support Brainfuck code.

Re:Bah! (4, Funny)

Amiga Lover (708890) | more than 5 years ago | (#24062963)

Brainfuck is inherently crystal clear in comparison to HYPERTARD.

It's a language created on the Amiga in the 1980s, named after hypercard, but completely unrelated. The only legal characters are whitespace. Tab, space, linefeed, carriage return etc.

Re:Bah! (5, Informative)

Jerome H (990344) | more than 5 years ago | (#24062983)

Well if you are looking for really fucked up language can I suggest Malbolge ?
Here is the link:

http://esoteric.voxelperfect.net/wiki/Malbolge [voxelperfect.net]

Re:Bah! (4, Informative)

yakumo.unr (833476) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063201)

How did you guys miss Whitespace? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitespace_(programming_language) [wikipedia.org]

Re:Bah! (3, Funny)

omar.sahal (687649) | more than 5 years ago | (#24065017)

The idea for this language was already mentioned five years earlier by Bjarne Stroustrup.

Is there no end to his evil meddling

Re:Bah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24070031)

I love how you delivered that deadpan. "How did you guys miss Whitespace?" is the funniest thing I've read all week.

Re:Bah! (2, Interesting)

jonadab (583620) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063629)

Actually, I've seen the specs for Malbolge, and I still think Threaded INTERCAL is more ingenious and extreme.

Re:Bah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24063749)

Actually, I've seen the specs for Malbolge, and I still think Threaded INTERCAL is more ingenious and extreme.

Really?

Have you compared
http://www.99-bottles-of-beer.net/language-malbolge-995.html [99-bottles-of-beer.net]
with
http://www.99-bottles-of-beer.net/language-intercal-333.html [99-bottles-of-beer.net]

I'd say INTERCAL is funnier, but Malbolge is more extreme.

Re:Bah! (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 5 years ago | (#24064997)

Okay, yeah, but that's regular INTERCAL, and 99 bottles of beer is a non-threaded application, so we're really not even talking about the same thing. (Have you seen Threaded INTERCAL? It's totally over the top.)

Re:Bah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24063195)

Whitespace [dur.ac.uk] has it beat, as it only allows spaces, tabs and LFs.

Re:Bah! (2, Insightful)

ari_j (90255) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063975)

Whitespace allows other characters. They just don't have syntactic meaning. :P

Re:Bah! (5, Funny)

Tmack (593755) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063487)

The language you refer to is whitespace [dur.ac.uk] , as described and linked in a comment below as well.

I would post "Hello World" written in it here, but the comment thingy refused to accept it: "Filter error: Please use less whitespace."

tm

Re:Bah! (4, Funny)

DeVilla (4563) | more than 5 years ago | (#24068281)

The language you refer to is whitespace, as described and linked in a comment below as well.

I would post "Hello World" written in it here, but the comment thingy refused to accept it: "Filter error: Please use less whitespace."

So those Perl bigots at Slashdot are finally actively excluding other programming languages by name.

Re:Bah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24141913)

The "Hello, user!" program is not so good, eh? It's got an unused subroutine and a buggy and inefficient read routine. Spotted those straight away. Yeh.

Re:Bah! (1)

Dex1337 (913242) | more than 5 years ago | (#24064625)

Brainfuck has nothing on Malbolge
Malbolge Programming Language [wikipedia.org]
Hello world:

(=<`:9876Z4321UT.-Q+*)M'&%$H"!~}|Bzy?=|{z]KwZY44Eq0/{mlk** hKs_dG5[m_BA{?-Y;;Vb'rR5431M}/.zHGwEDCBA@98\6543W10/.R,+O<

Re:Bah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24129639)

Maybe, but Unlambda 2 [madore.org] is more interesting in many evil ways. Abstraction elimination is the lambda calculus in the wrong (for humans) direction, since our monkey brains like functions, procedures and equations that can be described by a relatively simple and easy to remember name.

Re:Bah! (5, Informative)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063079)

Most people entirely miss the point of Brainfuck. It was never meant to be esoteric for the sake of it, or to "challenge and amuse programmers" as Wikipedia puts it.

It was designed to create a compiler as small as possible. The original AmigaOS compiler was 240 bytes in size. Even smaller compilers have been created by people who truly grasped the spirit of the language.

P ' ' (5, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063293)

Most people entirely miss the point of Brainfuck. It was never meant to be esoteric for the sake of it, or to "challenge and amuse programmers" as Wikipedia puts it.

It was designed to create a compiler as small as possible.

That, and Brainfuck is a realization of P ' ' [wikipedia.org] , the first imperative structured programming language ever to be proved Turing complete.

Re:P ' ' (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063417)

It is, but whether this is intentional or accidental is unclear. The original documentation, what little there is of it, makes no mention of this.

Re:Bah! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24064271)

That is essentially the spirit of wikipedia: people write what seems to be right, instead of bothering to research the issue and find out what actually is right.

Re:Bah! (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#24065309)

Then somebody else writes the truth further down in the article, and then nobody bothers to edit the article to make it actually consistent with itself.

Re:Bah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24065819)

So you could fix it instead of complaining here. I just did it for you. :)

Re:Bah! (1)

arstchnca (887141) | more than 5 years ago | (#24069909)

That is essentially the spirit of wikipedia: people write what seems to be right, instead of bothering to research the issue and find out what actually is right.

So by that standard, "what actually is right" is out there in the world, just waiting, plainly available, to be researched.

Can you show me a wikipedia article where someone has written what seems to be right? Can you show me where this information is, in fact, wrong, perhaps because they didn't "research the issue"?

People act as if wikipedia is like an empty book and retards show up to draft the articles that will fill its pages. In this reasoning the collaborative efforts of wiki communities, along with the benefits of said efforts, are ignored.

While certainly there is an explicit risk that inaccurate or outright false information will be added to an article, I think it's going a bit far to assert that people write "what seems to be right." Furthermore, it's going a bit far to claim that this capacity detracts from wikipedia's quality and usefulness in any real fashion (it was a stretch; you had to claim it was "essentially the spirit of wikipedia").

Re:Bah! (2, Funny)

grcumb (781340) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063197)

Intercal has nothing on Brainfuck [wikipedia.org] . Brainfuck makes every other spoof programming language look like a joke.

Not sure whether that was intentionally humourous or not, but well done, nonetheless.

But seriously[*] kids, nothing holds a candle to ACME [cpan.org] . All the programming foolishness you'll ever need, implemented in glorious Perl!

--------

[*] Whatever....

Re:Bah! (2, Informative)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#24064873)

Nonsense. Brainfuck is just a complicated but still pretty direct way of describing a Turing Machine. Brainfuck is interpreted in a single direction and the code is static. Intercal lets you use COME FROM statements (act like goto except you jump from the label to this line, in threaded intercal you can have multiple COME FROMs for one label and each spawns a thread), has ABSTAIN FROM that deactivates certain commands at runtime until reenabled, expects you to say PLEASE every so often (or it rejects your code as impolite), implements boolean operators as unary operators (i.e. they take one argument instead of two), had explanations for the various signs used for operators and why they changed between punchcard and ASCII encoding ( was replaced with $ to signify the increasing cost of software, the select operator is ? since that's the reaction most users have when they try to understand it) and the whole manual continued the joke perfectly, including nonsensical circuit diagrams and tonsils (Other manuals have appendices so they wanted to have a removable organ in their manual too). Oh and Intercal comes in versions that use the bases 3-7 too (not 8 since that's too standard).

Go watch some fireworks... (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 5 years ago | (#24062945)

It's gonna be a slow news night on Slashdot if they're pulling this one out.

Re:Go watch some fireworks... (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063371)

Yeah you'd think Slashdot would report on economic issues, high oil and gas prices, or how the government and our employers are spying on us, using technology for each of them.

Instead they report on a Spoof language and it isn't even April Fools day yet, OMG ponies!

I suppose next they'll report on how some company is still using COBOL on an IBM 360 Mainframe to write up reports and someone ported Java to the IBM 360 Mainframe to serve those reports as PDF files using Jasper reports? Or maybe they will write that even if China has a bad economy and 1950's surplus tech for their military, they are still a super power and ignore all of the human rights issues they have had over the past 100 years and how communism is a good thing now.

Re:Go watch some fireworks... (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 5 years ago | (#24069677)

I think the Slashdot guys can only handle so much of you guys masturbating your fury all over the site, so they post stuff like this to take a break from it.

In other news... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24062965)

Microsoft announces new language for the .NET platform, IronINTERCAL.

With all the features of regular INTERCAL, but only runs on Windows Vista (tm).

Miguel De Icaza had this to say about the exciting new development - "No Me Gusta." He's clearly speechless about this fabulous new language available only on Windows Vista (tm).

Re:In other news... (3, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063291)

The first IronINTERCAL project announced will be a MMOG version of a 43-Man Squeamish league.
A crucial feature of this mock-sports extravaganza will be on-the-fly and occasionally randomized rules generation.
Lead developer Q. Wolfgang Imboodaga denied vehemently the accusation that this is really a DARPA project to write a US Congress simulator.

Re:In other news... (2, Informative)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063529)

The first IronINTERCAL project announced will be a MMOG version of a 43-Man Squeamish league.

Fail. The game was 43-Man Squamish.

I still remember the invocation of the coin toss: "Mi Tio esta Infermo pero la Carretera esta Verde!*" (Portugese grammar corrected for me by Giglermo Regades, an Argentinian auto mechanic of my acquaintance in 1966.

(*"My uncle is sick but the highway is green.")

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24065581)

"Mi Tio esta Infermo pero la Carretera esta Verde!*" (Portugese grammar corrected for me by Giglermo Regades, an Argentinian auto mechanic of my acquaintance in 1966.

Fail. You see, this is actually Spanish, not Portuguese.

Re:In other news... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#24065941)

That's probably why the Argentine guy could correct it. If it had been Portuguese he'd have needed a Bazilian. Or indeed a Portuguese.

Re:In other news... (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 5 years ago | (#24066209)

The original Mad Magazine article that introduced the sport did specifically reference Argentinian Portugese, though. IANASOPLSP.

COME FROM revival (5, Interesting)

listen (20464) | more than 5 years ago | (#24062977)

If you hunker down and squint at it the right way, COME FROM is really an early form of aspect oriented programming - non local transfer of control to the point of definition - yeah, yeah CLOS fans we know that real generic functions subsume AOP and date from the mists of the 80s - but this is from the early 70s so it is pretty interesting. Over application of hyped technologies for the win!

A widely accepted use of COME FROM (5, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063165)

If you hunker down and squint at it the right way, COME FROM is really an early form of aspect oriented programming

Even before the alleged fad that is AOP, processors have had hardware support for COME FROM for a long time. It's called a breakpoint [wikipedia.org] .

Re:A widely accepted use of COME FROM (2, Funny)

jonadab (583620) | more than 5 years ago | (#24065023)

Yes, but the real breakthrough in computing, which I'm sure will be coming any day now, is the computed COME FROM statement, wherein the COME FROM statement gives a *formula* (which can include arithmetic, variables, function calls, ...) for calculating the line number to COME FROM. When combined with the ability to COME FROM a single line to multiple other lines, as found in Threaded INTERCAL, this becomes very powerful. Especially when you can toggle it with ABSTAIN and REINSTATE, either globally (PLEASE DO ABSTAIN FROM COMING FROM) or on a per-line basis.

Not the same thing (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#24065105)

As an assembly programmer, I find it not even vaguely similar, at least in spirit and purpose.

A breakpoint is essentially a one-byte CALL. No more.

It's used by debuggers as a makeshift COME FROM, yes, but there's no way to use it in assembly code as an invisible COME FROM. (Except if you do self-modifying code, but then in that case you can do anything whatsoever, not just COME FROM.) If you actually wrote that instruction in an assembly program, it would work as a CALL, and it would be visible right there, at the position you break from. It doesn't confuse the poor maintenance sod even remotely as much as a COME FROM that's in another file entirely and makes his method do extra (or less!) stuff that he can't see anywhere in the actual code of that method.

AOP creates that extra oportunity to make someone cry when they try to understand your code. Make a seemingly benign getter method alter the variables in a whole other class? Sure. Why not? Change a classloader so everything becomes public in loaded classes, and another module so it changes what you thought was a constant? Make a method call a whole unrelated module and cause all sorts of side-effects? Go ahead. The world is your bitch when you can use a COME FROM in any place you wish, and have it hidden in a whole other source file, and inserted in a whole different pass of the build.

The maintenance engineer sees your program like through a narrow cardboard tube. He doesn't know the big picture, and usually isn't given the time or budget to learn it. He just sees one screen at a time. And expects that if he sees no calls, there are no calls made from there, or none that he should be aware of. Make his day interesting by adding all sorts of aspects, so the method does more than what the source code says, or something else entirely. ;)

Which I guess is why most people only use it to insert extra debug or timing log messages.

Re:Not the same thing (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#24069001)

A breakpoint is essentially a one-byte CALL. No more.

On some CPUs and some debuggers. Other CPUs have hardware support for a small number of breakpoints, causing an interrupt/exception/signal/whatever when the instruction pointer hits a specific value.

Re:COME FROM revival (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#24067837)

Exactly what I was going to post. Whenever someone talks to me about AOP, I try hard to understand why it's a less-bad idea than a conditional COME FROM statement.

Why are you sitting on your hands? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24062997)

for as much as you slashfags bitch about religion it's interesting to see how little you bitch about muslims. it must be because of the high number of europeans. because, as we all know, islam has it's dick planted firmly in europe's faggot ass. euros can't stop islam nor are they willing to share their real feelings on the lie known as islam. instead they've bent over and got fucked like a good bitch. they hope this will appease the muslims but the truth is that muslims will take more and more. islam will not be happy until everyone is an allah faggot or everyone is dead.

get your heads out of your asses europe. you're a bitch to islam. keep sucking that mohammad dick until you're force to bow before allah or you'll get a few bullets in your back from a assfag mullah.

Idle dream (1)

Jay Maynard (54798) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063003)

The SPITBOL interpreter is available under the GPL, and a turnkey version of the OS it ran under is available. One of these days, if we can ever turn up a copy of the original INTERCAL compiler, I want to turn out an ISO image that's an IPLable, running OS and tools to run INTERCAL under Hercules...

LOLCODE (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24063101)

LOLCODE [lolcode.com] might actually get this brain-damaged BASIC refugee trying their hand at programming again after all these years.

Re:LOLCODE (-1, Flamebait)

ya really (1257084) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063179)

LOLCODE makes me think of those cliche cat pictures all over the Internet every time I read it:

HAI
CAN HAS STDIO?
VISIBLE "HAI WORLD!"
KTHXBYE

Re:LOLCODE (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24063411)

duh, man, that's like, the whole... point, or whatever, man.

Proof that otherwise intelligent people, in groups, become absolute fucktards.

yep (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24063105)

anal sex

I wish I could remember .... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24063125)

Back in the 1970s somebody told me about an operating system. I can only remember a couple of statements:

KILL SUPERVISOR

JUMP SECRETARY

Re:I wish I could remember .... (3, Funny)

s7uar7 (746699) | more than 5 years ago | (#24064445)

You can do something similar in Mumps:

New Day
Read Newspaper
Job Sucks
Kill Supervisor
Open Fly
Do Secretary
Close Door
Go Home

Re:I wish I could remember .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24084423)

Your fly is open

What? A spoof? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063199)

All of us here thought it was for real! But at least, this explains the slip of our operating system project...

Re:What? A spoof? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24063425)

Now I understand the pain Microsoft had with the first version of Word. Insurance companies no longer accept programming related incapacity claims if you refer the usage of INTERCAL. Brainfuck is also on the no compensation list, especially in brain related disorders. Similarily, Whitespace is infamous among ophthalmologists. The cry "I can't see the code" still echoes in some of most famous medical centers of the Valley.

Better spoof languages (5, Funny)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063225)

INTERCAL has nothing on APL. Or even on Stroustroup's parody of C, which people actually think you're supposed to use.

In production code! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24063255)

Sadly, I've actually seen worse abuses in source-code in shipping products. It was in C, does that count?

it's apparently amateur night (5, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063397)

Oh please.

Has noone here ever used perl? :)

Re:it's apparently amateur night (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24063983)

The language is named Perl.

Re:it's apparently amateur night (1)

sneezinglion (771733) | more than 5 years ago | (#24064193)

And grandparent obviously referred to the tool which is perl.

Just because you wanted him to refer to the language does not make it true.

Re:it's apparently amateur night (1)

KermodeBear (738243) | more than 5 years ago | (#24064359)

Not according to my company's HR department. A few weeks ago they put out a job posting for a "Pearl" developer...

Re:it's apparently amateur night (1)

Myrddin Wyllt (1188671) | more than 5 years ago | (#24065101)

Not according to my company's HR department. A few weeks ago they put out a job posting for a "Pearl" developer...

So.....an oyster then?

Turn over the Google Source Code to Viacom in INTE (4, Funny)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063413)

Google should just agree to turn over their source code in the Viacom suit [slashdot.org] after running it through a {sane language} ==> INTERCAL translator.

Sh1t (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24063433)

cuntwipes Jordan fun to be again. GAY NIGGERS FROM

Special hardware support for INTERCAL! (3, Interesting)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063505)

Interestingly, TI's C64x family of DSPs has special instructions that speed up INTERCAL. The "SHFL" instruction directly implements INTERCAL's "mingle" operator. The "DEAL" instruction implements common special cases of the "select" operator. Nifty, eh?

Converted (1)

PhasmatisApparatus (1086395) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063701)

A Postscript to PDF converter comes in handy ( http://www.ps2pdf.com/ [ps2pdf.com] ), as the documentation is provided in postscript and plain text (which is badly formatted).

Re:Converted (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063965)

An actual PS reader like GhostView [wisc.edu] is far more handy. Sciences other than programming use something besides HTML and PDF pretty often to distribute their work.

Re:Converted (1)

PhasmatisApparatus (1086395) | more than 5 years ago | (#24064597)

True, but if you use GhostView to view the linked postscript file, it will only display the first page. presumably there is some obscure comand-line way to access the other pages, but at that point, PDF converters are just easier.

Re:Converted (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24064983)

Um, which program are you talking about? If you're referring to the X11 program Ghostview, then you should be using gv, in which you can access other pages by the not-at-all-obscure non-command-line approach of clicking on the "next page" button. If you're referring to the Windows program GSview, on the other hand, then it's slightly harder: you access other pages by clicking on the "next page" button.

Um, in other words, what the fuck are you smoking?

Re:Converted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24064179)

> A Postscript to PDF converter comes in handy

If you have a Mac, it comes with a PS-to-PDF converter built in. It's called Preview! :)

Re:Converted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24065037)

Ditto any form of Linux. Really, it's only Windows that is missing basic functionality like this out of the box.

Real Challenge... (3, Interesting)

stuffman64 (208233) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063801)

How about instead of the Obfuscated C Code contest, we have an Unobfuscated INTERCAL Code contest where the object is to make INTERCAL code look as close to or at least as understandable as "normal" C (or other language) as possible while still performing a set action?

Woah! (5, Funny)

Zwicky (702757) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063917)

Wow! Researching these esoteric programming languages has been more than a brainfuck [esolangs.org] - it is positively a brainfuck++ [esolangs.org] . Nay, I'm sure just reading of them is causing an irreversible [esolangs.org] loss of knowledge of real programming languages - that must surely qualify as a quantum brainfuck [esolangs.org] whereby both cannot be fully comprehended [esolangs.org] at the same time.

Man, now I really feel like a dumbf*ck [esolangs.org] ! Fuck, Fuck! [esolangs.org] Double fuck! [esolangs.org]

The bad news is that my pointy [esolangs.org] haired boss [esolangs.org] has ordered that all development switch to his new favorite language [esolangs.org] . I think he may have been smoking something [esolangs.org] .

This is bad for me because he has now had to ask me to go ahead and come in on Saturday. This means I will have to cancel my date, who has real come hither [esolangs.org] eyes, and I was so confident it was going to be a real beneficial [esolangs.org] [0] night[1].

Argh! [esolangs.org]

I wish I could get all my ducks in a row [esolangs.org] so I could give him a swift kick with my size nines [esolangs.org] so he walks funny [esolangs.org] for a week, flick him the V [esolangs.org] and leave this crummy company; that would rock [esolangs.org] !

[0] High five!
[1] Unlike the last one, on which the lady gave me an unexpected present [esolangs.org] .

Re:Woah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24064173)

That's the dullest Slashdot comment I've ever read.

Re:Woah! (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 5 years ago | (#24078011)

That's the dullest Slashdot comment I've ever read.

I say, I say, I say,... My dog's nose is a comedian!

Why's that?

He smells funny!

Putridos (2, Interesting)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 5 years ago | (#24064133)

Those of you who think INTERCAL or some of the other languages mentioned here are weird have never run across the weirdest OS ever conceived: PutriDOS. [well.com] Among other things, the Clear Screen command blew all the phosphors off the inside of the CRT so that it could be examined, it had a "pretty printer" for its assembly language that reformatted the output into stars, flowers and other images, and an "upgrade" of FORTRAN called 4.1TRAN. It was supported by three companies, PutriDOS, PutridDOS and Putritech, who tended to forget which company wrote which program and upgrade each other's products in incompatible ways. Generally, your best bet was to find a user's group and request a hex patch.

Re:Putridos (1)

tirerim (1108567) | more than 5 years ago | (#24064747)

That's pretty funny, but it should perhaps be pointed out that INTERCAL actually exists (i.e. there are real compilers available).

PLEASE post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24064205)

PLEASE post message

Request denied, you are excessively polite.

Now THIS gets me thinking ... (2, Interesting)

InterStellaArtois (808931) | more than 5 years ago | (#24065007)

Languages as we know them have well-known paradigms such as functional decomposition, object orientation, casts, blah blah. And we're limited to these ways of thinking, useful as they are.

But to invent a parody language which doesn't really have to be useful ... could produce ideas we wouldn't have thought of along traditional lines.

Anyone who reads Edward de Bono (who teaches thinking skills including how to have creative ideas) knows about the 'provocation': you make some nonsensical statement about the problem domain, then see what interesting possibilities that opens up. The idea is to brainstorm and hopefully useful ideas will come out of the process.

E.g. off the top of my head ... Provocation: "computer languages should have source code which is unreadable" Leads to these (pretty random) ideas

  • A language with a very large instruction set, perhaps allowing low level access into graphics APIs etc. but reasonably high level semantics
  • A new microprocessor design which allows for a high level language which doesn't need to be compiled, a 'compromise' between the machine and its programmer
  • Deliberate obfuscation of the source (OK nothing new there)
  • Create a new natural language which is closer to how machines think, and have people program in that

I think silliness is a good way to solve many problems, thinking from outside the usual boundaries is often what's needed. Using the right tool for the job is normally the best approach but to paraphrase TFA a hacker is 'One who builds furniture using an axe' - now that has to result in some new ideas.

Object Oriented PostScript programming (1)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 5 years ago | (#24065329)

Speaking of obscure programming languages: I used to work with Don Woods at Sun Microsystems, where we wrote a user interface toolkit in object oriented PostScript. (TNT: The NeWS Toolkit -- for the James Gosling's Network extensible Windows System [wikipedia.org] .)

-Don

Re:Object Oriented PostScript programming (1)

amacbride (156394) | more than 5 years ago | (#24098925)

Ah, NeWS and TNT. I have fond memories of my first year at Sun (1990), prototyping a system in TNT (which would have been nearly impossible to do any other way, given the other technology options at the time.) We used a notebook metaphor (with tabbed pages), and for fun, I made the tab corners rounded, and included 3 "holes" in the windows to make them look like lined 3-hole notebook paper. The code to implement it was surprisingly clean and elegant, but took a bit of doing to get your head around it.

Good times!

Re:Object Oriented PostScript programming (1)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 5 years ago | (#24100605)

Cool! That was the same year I started there. I don't know your real name, but we may have known each other. You can email me if you like at dhopkins@DonHopkins.com.

Were you on the Ruby project? (The port of the HyperCard clone PLUS to NeWS.) After giving up on Sun, I went to work with Arthur van Hoff at the Turing Institute, to develop his "GoodNeWS" aka "HyperNeWS" aka "HyperLook" system, which was a from-the-ground-up reimplmentation of HyperCard in PostScript, with a network client interface (like an AJAX user interface builder), and I ported SimCity to that platform, writing the user interface in PostScript, and integrating TNT widgets so you could cut and paste and edit them in the user interface builder.

Arthur is visiting his mom in Amsterdam, and I'm going to see him this week! At Marimba, he wrote a system called "Bongo" that was a lot like HyperLook, written in Java. Never went anywhere though -- it got steamrolled by Java Beans (which never turned into a viable user interface framework anyway, but just got used on the server).

Somewhere I still have a copy of ptape.ps, which makes a window in the shape of a piece of paper tape (that TTYs and old computers used for storage) with binary holes for ASCII characters punched into it. You can type text into it and it reshapes the window to be longer with more holes. Totally useless but fun to write!

-Don

If they're talking to Grace Murray Hopper (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#24065907)

If they're talking to Grace Murray Hopper, are they using a medium or a ouija board?

Re:If they're talking to Grace Murray Hopper (1)

iapetus (24050) | more than 5 years ago | (#24069659)

IDENTIFICATION DIVISION.
PROGRAM-ID. COMMUNEWITHDEAD.
ENVIRONMENT DIVISION.
INPUT-OUTPUT SECTION.
FILE-CONTROL.
SELECT PRINT-FILE ASSIGN TO BEYOND-THE-GRAVE.
PROCEDURE DIVISION.
OUIJABOARD.
      DISPLAY "GRACE? CAN YOU HEAR ME, GRACE?".
      STOP RUN.
                                     

base three (1)

mmphosis (555604) | more than 5 years ago | (#24068189)

Although the primary base numbering system in machete [blogspot.com] is unary, base three has it's advantages, especially in flux [virtuescience.com] between the numbers three and six. See the enneagram [wikipedia.org] .
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