Mixsonian


APL

One of the newest advancements around this time was a new computer language called "APL" which simply stood for A Programming Language. APL was a fully interactive language designed to run on computer terminals. APL is an interesting language in that it does not have any "words operators" like conventional languages, i.e. no "goto", "print", "if, then, else", etc. APL had mathematical symbols for all such operators such as ""È". To use APL you had a special APL type ball for the IBM slectric terminal.  If took the free couse, a type ball was supplied during the class, but if you wanted to program outside of class you had to buy your own which I did.  It was quite an expense for me a poor student.   For the firstAPL Type Ball year or so, to run APL it took the entire mainframe so it was only run at limited times. The then director of the UFCC was a big APL fan so he dedicated the mainframe to APL during the lunch hour. I later took an APL course from him and he gave a programming project to write the shortest APL program we could to solve the Eight Queens chess problem and print out the solution(s). The Eight Queens chess problem is to place eight queens on a chess board so that no queen can attack another queen. There are something like 64 solutions although some are mirrors and reflections of other solutions. Well I managed to write a three line APL program that generated about 32 of the solutions. The professor was able to write a one line program although it was about 100 characters long.

As a student operation I typically worked the night and weekend shifts and so I would often come in and go the computer lab during lunch hour and write APL programs. One of the first programs I wrote was a Battleship game. I then wrote a three dimensional Battleship game. I did this just about every day for several months when one day a grad student in the Agriculture Soils department came up to me and asked if I wanted to work for him. He had a grant and needed someone to write statistical programs to analyze his thesis data. He had been trying to do it but wasn't being very successful at it. I said yes and this is how I got my job working in the Soils department. 

APL Terminal Characters to stick on the IBM Selectric Terminal

APL Keyboard