I can't imagine a loss to the programming world as severe as the demise of the Pascal programming language. I am fluent in a number of programming languages (FORTRAN, COBOL, Pascal, Ada, C, and C#). But the one I would most prefer to use is Pascal; but Pascal is dead. It was slain by the very people who so strongly championed its use.

In 1978, a call for participation in a Pascal technical committee was made. The initial meeting was held in Costa Mesa, California. I convinced my management that it was in the company's best interests to have someone attend the meeting. Of course, it turned out that the left coast didn't know what the right coast was doing. So my company sent two representatives. Eventually, things got sorted out and I became the company's principle representative to what was to become the ANSI X3J9 Pascal Technical Committee 1.

The X3 technical committees are charged with the preparation of standards (and the like) for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) X3 committee. In this case, X3J9 was charged with writing a standard for the Pascal programming language.

I was interested in this effort because I had been programming the BIODAB project in "Navy Pascal" for about three years. It was a good implementation of the language. Its author, Mike Ball, then of the Naval Ocean Systems Center, was a highly talented compiler writer (although he always claimed to be just an electrical engineer who became a Pascal implementer out of necessity). He added features to the language that allowed a production programmer to build multiple compilation units and then link them into an executable program. This "multiple compilation unit" feature was mandatory if Pascal was to be anything more than a toy language.

At the first technical committee meeting, I explained that I was not a compiler writer, but rather that I was a professional computer programmer with recent experience using Pascal. I stated my opinion that the language had to be defined in such a way as to allow for multiple compilation units. That way, programmers on a project team would be able to work independently. Then, the project source could be compiled and linked. This was true of most programming languages, currently available. Especially the C programming language. Otherwise, I opined, Pascal would be replaced by C.

Guess what? Multiple compilation units was fought by the purists on X3J9. And, unfortunately, my prediction became true.

1 As long as I can recall, I have had an intense dislike for the IEEE Computer Society . I find any organization that charges for intellectual property to be objectionable. The IEEE, for what I consider political and monetary reasons, cajoled ANSI X3 into allowing the IEEE to join X3 in sponsoring the Pascal Technical Committee. Thus the committee designation became ANSI/IEEE-770 X3.97. What is worse is that IEEE charges for the hardcopy Pascal standard.