This month’s IEEE Spectrum has a cute article about UCSD Pascal and how it influenced Java.
I used UCSD Pascal at my first job out of college. We were doing stress analysis with ADLPipe on a large IBM. One of our contracts was a really large paper mill. We were getting backed up trying to get all of the analysis done. But lots of the piping for this project was a series of long runs from one side of the plant to the other. They were various lengths and sizes, but the geometry was all very regular. So I sat down at our brand new IBM-PC and wrote a simple UCSD Pascal program for solving this particular geometry. It was pretty nice. It drew a picture and let you tab around and add dimensions to the different parts of the picture. Then you hit solve, and a short while later you had your answer.
We had done apps like this for PCs in school, but everyone at this engineering company was pretty amazed at what this little machine could do. The really amazing part for them was the ability to play with the results. When they were submitting jobs to the mainframe, they couldn’t even dream of doing “what if” analyses. With this little UCSD Pascal app, they could just keep typing different dimensions in until they found a design that worked.
What impressed me was how easy UCSD Pascal made it to put together an app with graphics and menus. It was really a big step forward from the tools that came before it.