The Origins of APL – 1974

Here is the full 1 hour version of this video (you asked for it).  🙂

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7 Responses to “The Origins of APL – 1974”


  • aprogramminglanguage

    Wow. In just 2 days, this video has had 39 views. I didn’t think it would be so popular. That’s great. We aim to please.

  • Do you know who made this and why? (I’m glad they did.)

  • A brief history of “The Origins of APL” – from John R. Clarke

    At the 5th APL conference held in Toronto Canada in 1973 it was agreed that the 6th conference would be held in Anaheim California with the Coast Community College District (CCCD) as the host institution.

    The CCCD, at the time, consisted of two colleges Orange Coast College (OCC) and the Golden West College (GWC) and a Public Broadcast Television station KOCE.

    Roughly 45,000 students were enrolled in the two schools. OCC was the first two year college to teach computers starting in 1959.

    Dr. Iverson had informed those in Toronto that he would not serve as the banquet speaker. This presented the organizing group with a major problem.

    In fall of 1973, John R. Clarke was sent to attend a conference at the Educational Testing Service near Princeton University. While there, he sneaked off and went to the IBM Scientific Center in Philadelphia to meet with Iverson and Falkoff.

    He then pitched the idea of cutting a tape and using it at the banquet. Iverson was not impressed, but when Falkoff ask why it should be done, John replied that he would bet 90% of the people using FORTRAN did not know who John Baccus was and how FORTRAN was developed.

    Falkoff went to see Iverson, and it was agreed. The show would be cut.

    Iverson had given John a copy of the description of system/360, and the TV station had the opportunity to set up the props for the show.

    The tape was shot in real time the morning before the banquet in the evening.

    There was no cutting or practice sessions. There was a meeting the previous evening in which about the only thing that was agreed on was the word “basic” should not be used, and “fundamental” should be used instead.

    David Clements the host, was a systems analysis/programmer who worked for the district data processing. He had had some TV experience prior to joining CCCD. He had almost no APL experience.

  • It was funny to hear the guys talk amongst themselves with the interviewer failing to get a question in. Nice to see the founders talking as until now I had only known of them from the language they created. Somehow the effort seems all the more complete. It would be good if there was more material available. Comparing the rest of the programming world crudely, it still seems their complexity is celebrated more often than the simplicity the APL family of languages strove for.

  • Eric has promised me tapes of his father from over the years. I can’t wait to see them myself.

    It will be an adventure in tape medium conversion, I’m sure, but where there’s a will…

    Thanks for watching.

  • Thanks for posting the video, I watched it from start to finish (with minor interruptions for the kids!)

  • As of today this video has seen 222 plays on Myspace.

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