FORTH, PASCAL, and C--- which one would you choose (it depends ?)

John Cornelius jc at sdcsvax.UUCP
Tue Dec 31 03:26:09 AEST 1985

In answer to the question can one "write an operating system in Forth?"

You can write anything in anything; Prime proved this by writing an operating
system almost entirely in Fortran. Why I even remember when we wrote operating
systems in Machine Language (no, not Assembly language, Machine Language).

The major comments that I have heard regarding Forth are that it is very fast
and compact but it is more cryptic than C (and maybe even Assembler) and that
it requires the programmer to do too much of the compilation himself at coding
time. The first criticism is probably valid in that I've seen a number of Forth
programmers stare at their code for long periods and then just rewrite the
whole program/subroutine because they cannot remember what they did. The second
criticism is equally valid in any language where portability is not an issue.

Languages are a matter of taste and zealots for most of the currently popular
languages are indistinguishable from one another. One must simply consider what
problem one is trying to solve is and proceed from there for a particular
application. Since efficiency of the language is largely a function of the
skill of the compiler writer(s) the choice of compilers is probably more
important than the choice of language.

John Cornelius
Western Scientific

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