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Comments on: It’s APL’s Birthday! Or is it? http://lathwellproductions.ca/wordpress/2011/11/27/its-apls-birthday-or-is-it/ Catherine Lathwell's APL/A/J/K/Q Film Diaries Thu, 29 Aug 2013 01:58:52 +0000 hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 By: They Saved the First CLEANSPACE back in 1966 - Silver Maple http://lathwellproductions.ca/wordpress/2011/11/27/its-apls-birthday-or-is-it/comment-page-1/#comment-45779 Thu, 29 Aug 2013 01:58:52 +0000 http://lathwellproductions.ca/wordpress/?p=5429#comment-45779 […] It’s APL’s Birthday! Or is it? by Catherine Lathwell […]

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By: aprogramminglanguage http://lathwellproductions.ca/wordpress/2011/11/27/its-apls-birthday-or-is-it/comment-page-1/#comment-3009 Tue, 21 Feb 2012 13:06:09 +0000 http://lathwellproductions.ca/wordpress/?p=5429#comment-3009 Wow. APL’s birthday sure stimulates some interesting and lively discussion! Incidentally, this is also the the time of year we get attention on the world-wide-stage. For these reasons, I have decided to set November 27, 2016 as the release date target for the documentary. The 50th anniversary of that first )save. (And four more years might seem like a lot of time, but it actually puts us at the production cycle for the AVERAGE documentary according to my very unscientific sleuthing)

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By: Larry Breed http://lathwellproductions.ca/wordpress/2011/11/27/its-apls-birthday-or-is-it/comment-page-1/#comment-3004 Tue, 21 Feb 2012 09:09:35 +0000 http://lathwellproductions.ca/wordpress/?p=5429#comment-3004 Talk about starting at the top. Working for and with Ken Iverson was my first job out of college. Roger and I were introduced to Iverson Notation at the same SRI chalk talk. I didn’t do anything with it at the time, but a while later an IBM maverick technical guy and rhyming philosopher, Michael Montalbano, started hanging around Stanford’s brand-new computer science department. He was writing linear programming algorithms in the Notation, then hand-translating them into Fortran for his business-school students. He gave some informal lectures on the Notation; Phil Abrams and I attended enthusiastically.

IBM announced the IBM System/360 on April 7, 1964. Shortly after, Mike handed me a new IBM Systems Journal that had articles by the System/360 architects — and holy cow, one by Ken Iverson, Adin Falkoff, and Ed Sussenguth that precisely defined the whole 360 line in 18 pages of Notation, plus commentary: “A Formal Description of System/360.”

Phil and I devoured it. Once past the steepest part of the learning curve, we gave a series of seminars to other students. I found a few typos, which I mailed to Ken.

Then Ken came to visit, touring several institutions to talk about the Formal Description and his notation. I listened, argued once or twice, and handed over my latest errata. Ken thanked me, and said “Larry, these are pretty minor. Why don’t you find something seriously wrong?”

Nothing could have fired me up like that challenge. I scoured the article. Late at night I sat in bed, with the fold-out pages resting over my recent bride’s nose (a nuisance) and eyes (appreciated). I got lucky. The Memory Access program had a race condition between requests from the Processor and Channel programs.

Next day at lunch I showed Ken what I’d found. Mid-afternoon
Mike came by my office. “Larry, Ken’s taking the Lord’s name in vain. He came back from lunch saying ‘That sonofabitch Breed! Why didn’t we talk to him before we published this god-damned thing?'” And I knew that I had to go to work for him.

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By: aprogramminglanguage http://lathwellproductions.ca/wordpress/2011/11/27/its-apls-birthday-or-is-it/comment-page-1/#comment-2985 Tue, 14 Feb 2012 16:24:45 +0000 http://lathwellproductions.ca/wordpress/?p=5429#comment-2985 Thank you for your note, Ray.

Kurt W. Beyer has a really interesting analysis of IBMs position and literature concerning inventions in general and in particular with respect to Howard Aiken in his biography of Grace Hopper. (Aiken was Dr. Iverson’s advisor at Harvard). It was Beyer’s analysis which inspired my thoughts about what you are saying. I believe there are at least two forces pulling on APL with respect to credit and profit; those of a protective proprietary patent culture (beginning with IBM) and those values which evolved from mathematics which concern sharing scientific information for the advancement of humanity. APL certainly straddles both world views which is one of the reasons it makes such an interesting subject for a documentary.

I have never heard that IBM denies Dr Iverson as the inventor of APL but on the other hand, it would be uncharacteristic of that organization to give credit to any individual for a particular invention (thought they do have their “Fellows”).

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By: Ray Brown http://lathwellproductions.ca/wordpress/2011/11/27/its-apls-birthday-or-is-it/comment-page-1/#comment-2984 Tue, 14 Feb 2012 15:57:13 +0000 http://lathwellproductions.ca/wordpress/?p=5429#comment-2984 I thought I was one of the early users, I first used APL in 1985, on an IBM 360 mainframe computer.

The IBM guys sent a deputation round to our research labs at Berkeley and to persuade us of the value of APL and i admit, it did prove handy for our time series stats.

IBM never mentioned anyone else inventing APL.

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By: aprogramminglanguage http://lathwellproductions.ca/wordpress/2011/11/27/its-apls-birthday-or-is-it/comment-page-1/#comment-2431 Wed, 30 Nov 2011 19:29:28 +0000 http://lathwellproductions.ca/wordpress/?p=5429#comment-2431 Thanks for posting A Programming Language online for us all to see, Lee.

(http://www.softwarepreservation.org/projects/apl/book/APROGRAMMING%20LANGUAGE/view)

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By: Lee Courtney http://lathwellproductions.ca/wordpress/2011/11/27/its-apls-birthday-or-is-it/comment-page-1/#comment-2430 Wed, 30 Nov 2011 19:07:40 +0000 http://lathwellproductions.ca/wordpress/?p=5429#comment-2430 Catherine – nice post and thanks for the reminder. Yes, definitely Happy Birthday.

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By: aprogramminglanguage http://lathwellproductions.ca/wordpress/2011/11/27/its-apls-birthday-or-is-it/comment-page-1/#comment-2427 Tue, 29 Nov 2011 14:21:06 +0000 http://lathwellproductions.ca/wordpress/?p=5429#comment-2427 RDM – There is a strong contingent out there very eager to hear more of your side of the story!

Mr Hui – The funny thing is, every time I say anything critical about Dijkstra I get trouble from my dad!

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By: Roger Hui http://lathwellproductions.ca/wordpress/2011/11/27/its-apls-birthday-or-is-it/comment-page-1/#comment-2421 Mon, 28 Nov 2011 22:40:47 +0000 http://lathwellproductions.ca/wordpress/?p=5429#comment-2421 Catherine says:
> Roger! I LOVE that both Iverson and Dijkstra are on your who they are list!

Ironic, isn’t it? As you know, Dijkstra was dead set against APL. (See for example this 1978 article by Perlis.) I’ve looked at some EWDs briefly, and as I was reading one I said to myself, “APL should be a natural for this guy!” Dijkstra was interested in writing provably correct programs, and APL programs are easier to prove correct than programs in other languages.

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By: Roger Moore http://lathwellproductions.ca/wordpress/2011/11/27/its-apls-birthday-or-is-it/comment-page-1/#comment-2419 Mon, 28 Nov 2011 20:32:46 +0000 http://lathwellproductions.ca/wordpress/?p=5429#comment-2419 I never knew that Ken was denied tenure at Harvard.
My first exposure to Iverson Notation was a lecture by KEI at Stanford Research Institute in 1961 or 62. Several of us from the Stanford Comp Center attended. I did purchase a copy of the book shortly after it was published. Those arrows down the side for branching seemed a barrier to implementation.
Some features such as +/X seemed to present an opportunity for compiler code generation. An efficient looping form could be used which is not always the case with a FOR statement.

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