Browse Prior Art Database

The UNIVAC SHORT CODE

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129539D
Original Publication Date: 1988-Dec-31
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Document File: 14 page(s) / 52K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

WILLIAM F. SCHMITT: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

The UNIVAC SHORT CODE, the first example of a high level programming language actually intended to be used with an electronic computer was proposed by John W. Mauchly in July 1949. SHORT CODE was implemented as an interpreter by W. F. Schmin and was first run on UNIVAC I Serial 1 in 1950. A revised version prepared in 1952 by A. B. Tonik and J. R. Logan still exists and is described with some examples. Some of Mauchly's thoughts on programming at that time are set forth in a previously unpublished fragment attached as an appendix.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 7% of the total text.

Page 1 of 14

THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1988 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

The UNIVAC SHORT CODE

WILLIAM F. SCHMITT

(Image Omitted: Author's Address: Computer Science Department, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122)

The UNIVAC SHORT CODE, the first example of a high level programming language actually intended to be used with an electronic computer was proposed by John W. Mauchly in July 1949. SHORT CODE was implemented as an interpreter by W. F. Schmin and was first run on UNIVAC I Serial 1 in 1950. A revised version prepared in 1952 by A. B. Tonik and J. R. Logan still exists and is described with some examples. Some of Mauchly's thoughts on programming at that time are set forth in a previously unpublished fragment attached as an appendix.

Categories and Subject Descriptors: , K-2 [Computing Milieux]: History of Computing -- people software. D.3.4. [Software]: Programming Languages -- Processors; SHORT CODE, 8R/EF COOK, Interpreters. General Terms: Design, Languages. Additional Terms: John W. Mauchly,
J. Presper Eckert, Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation (EMCC), UNIVAC I, BINAC.

Introduction

In 1949, four years after the first report on electronic stored program computers, perhaps a dozen computers were under development. Programming was new and programmers were numbered in the tens. There were no programming tutorials and programming was learned only through personal instruction. Only a small number of programs had been written and all of these had been coded by hand in machine language. Assemblers and compilers had not yet been invented. It was in this climate that John W. Mauchly conceived of the first high level language which he first called BRIEF CODE, but which later came to be called SHORT CODE.

In the summer of 1949 Mauchly suggested that the programming of mathematical problems for BINAC could be speeded up, if a general program were written which would allow BINAC to interpret algebraic equations directly without the need to write machine code. This was the genesis of what came to be known as the UNTVAC SHORT CODE although the first efforts were directed at BINAC.

It was John's special genius to have anticipated a problem and a method of solution long before the need was commonly felt. It was my lot to have been chosen to implement it.

The Origin of the SHORT CODE

Around the end of July 1949 John first told me of his thoughts on a new method of programming BINAC. He called me into his office and started to tell me about what he called the BRIEF CODE. He wanted to interpret equations on the BINAC. BINAC was a pure binary machine with no alphabetic characters available so these equations would have to be written using some type of binary representation for symbols. He had decided to use six bit groups as symbols which could be considered to be pairs of octal digits for input purposes. There were 64 possible octal d...