Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Turbo Pascal

In the early eighties, Pascal was a popular programming language in education and universities, and growing in business use as those students carried their knowledge into the working world. So it was no surprise that when Borland introduced Turbo Pascal for MS DOS in 1983, it was a huge success... and it cost less than $100!

Turbo Pascal was a unique software development tool in that it supported a very powerful compiled, strongly typed language, included a groundbreaking integrated compiler/IDE, and produced extremely fast compact code. Before this point, my college professors used to strongly discourage multiple re-compiles of our assignments, probably due to their memory of a single compile taking over a day in the punch-card era. However, with Turbo Pascal, and similar tools to follow later, compiling was so fast (seconds!!!) and PC's so ubiquitous, that now the compiler could be used to do the work of repeatedly checking your code (and spelling, etc). For me, this created a huge productivity boost.

Now this original groundbreaking code is available for free from the Antique Software page at Embarcadero Developer Network. I downloaded Turbo Pascal 3.0 (the version that I used in my first professional software development project in 1986). It brought back fond memories of a simpler time, and is as fast and useful today as it was 24 years ago!