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New Languages

(heard it, chuckle)

(I saw a request on the net a while back that I think was referring to this article or a similar one. I first saw it in late 1984 or early 1985 so it is a little dated, but I think it still has some humor. My copy has no copyright notices and attributes the original to the APL SIG newsletter. I believe my copy came from a DECUS newsletter or magazine. This is a verbatim copy from my photocopy of the original.)

Languages NOT included in the Commercial Language SIG
or the Languages and Tools SIG

Doug Bohrer
Bohrer and Company
Near Chicago
Ted A. Bear
NCA Corporation
In the heart of Silicon Valley
A Usually Reliable Source
Digital Equipment Corporation
Somewhere in New England

APL, BASIC, COBOL, FORTRAN, PASCAL, RPG... these programming languages are well known and (more or less) loved throughout the computer industry. There are numerous other languages, however, that are less well known yet still have ardent devotees. In fact, these little known languages generally have the most fanatic admirers. For those who wish to know more about these obscure languages--and why they are obscure--we present the following catalogue.


This language was named for the grade received by its creator when he submitted it as a class project in a graduate programming class. C- is best described as a "low-level" programming language. In general, the language requires more C- statements than machine code instructions to execute a given task. In this respect it is very similar to COBOL.


Developed at MIOT (Massachusetts Institute of Obedience Training). DOGO heralds a new era of computer-literate pets. DOGO commands include SIT, HEEL, STAY, PLAY_DEAD and ROLL_OVER. An innovative feature of DOGO is "puppy graphics," a small cocker spaniel that occasionally leaves deposits as it travels across the screen.


FIFTH is a precise mathematical language in which the data types refer to quantities. The data types range from CC, OUNCE, SHOT and JIGGER to FIFTH (hence the name of the language), LITER MAGNUM, and BLOTTO. Commands refer to ingredients such as CHABLIS, CHARDONNAY, CABERNET, GIN, VERMOUTH, VODKA, SCOTCH, BOURBON, CANADIAN, COORS, BUD, EVERCLEAR and WHAT_EVERS_AROUND.

The many versions of the FIFTH language reflect the sophistication and financial status of its user. Commands in the ELITE dialect include VSOP, LAFITE and WAITERS_RECOMMENDATION. The GUTTER dialect commands include THUNDERBIRD, RIPPLE and HOUSE_RED. The GUTTER dialect is a particular favorite of frustrated FORTH programmers who end up using this language.


This language was developed at the Marin County Center for T'ai Chi, Mellowness and Computer Programming (now defunct), as an alternative to the more intense atmosphere in nearby Silicon Valley.

The center was ideal for programmers who liked to soak in hot tubs while they worked. Unfortunately few programmers could survive there because the center outlawed Pizza and Coca-Cola in favor of Tofu and Perrier.

Many mourn the demise of LAIDBACK because of its reputation as a gentle and non-threatening language since all error messages are in lower case. For example, LAIDBACK responded to syntax errors with the message: "I hate to bother you, but i just can't relate to that. can you find the time to try it again?"


This otherwise unremarkable language is distinguished by the absence of an "S" in its character set. Programmers and users must substitute "TH." LITHP is said to be useful prothething litht. This language was developed in San Francisco.


This language was also developed in California, but is now widely used in Washington D.C. It is the current subset of the international bureaucratic language known as DOUBLESPEAK. Commands include REVENUE_ENHANCEMENT, STOCKMAN, CAP_WEINBERGER, MALCOMB_BALDRIDGE, CABINET, CHOP_WOOD, LAXALT and SCENERIO. WATT and BURFORD have been removed from the commands while there is a current effort to add MEESE.

The operating system used is NEW_RIGHT and the designated memory is THE_RANCH. The compile SCENERIO is a compile with NANCY followed by a link with BONZO resulting in a SNOOZE. COMMIES (program bugs) are removed with the GRENADA command.

A REAGAN program commences with LANDSLIDE and terminates with SENILITY.


Named after the famous French philosopher and mathematician Rene DesCartes, RENE is a language used for artificial intelligence. The language is being developed at the Chicago Center of Machine Politics and Programming under a grant from the Jane Byrne Victory Fund. A spokesman described the language as "Just as great as dis [sic] city of ours."

The center is very pleased with progress to date. They say they have almost succeeded in getting a VAX to think. However, sources inside the organization say that each time the machine fails to think it ceases to exist.


Named after the late existential philosopher, SATRE is an extremely unstructured language. Statements in SATRE have no purpose; they just are. Thus SATRE programs are left to define their own functions. SATRE programmers tend to be boring and depressing and are no fun at parties.


SIMPLE is the acronym for Sheer Idiot's Monopurpose Programming Linguistic Environment. This language, developed at Hanover College for Technological Misfists, was designed to make it impossible to write code with errors in it. The statements are, therefore, confined to BEGIN, END and STOP. No matter how you arrange the statements, you can't make a syntax error.


SLOBOL is best know for the speed, or the lack of it, of the compiler. Although may compilers allow you to take a coffee break while they compile, the SLOBOL compiler allows you to travel to Columbia to pick the coffee. Forty-three programmers are known to have died of boredom sitting at their terminals while waiting for a SLOBOL program to compile.


From its modest beginnings in Southern California's San Fernando Valley, VALGOL is enjoying a dramatic surge of popularity across the industry.

VALGOL commands include REALLY, LIKE, WELL and Y*KNOW. Variables are assigned with the =LIKE and +TOTALLY operators. Other operators include the California Booleans, AX and NOWAY. Repetitions of code are handled in FOR - SURE loops.

Here is a sample program:

IF PIZZA                =LIKE BITCHEN AND 
GUY                     =LIKE TUBULAR AND 



VALGOL is characterized by its unfriendly error messages. For example, when the user makes a syntax error, the interpreter displays the message:


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