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February 22, 1989

ANSI FORTH COMMITTEE SLAMS MOVE TO PUT MS-DOS FORTH VERSION IN PUBLIC DOMAIN

By CBR Staff Writer

There’s trouble in the Forth language paradise. The Silicon Valley Chapter of the Forth Interest Group has recently placed the F-PC 2.25 version of the language into the public domain, but the American National Standards Institute technical committee on the ingenious and super-lean language sees the more as a terrible one. Will Baden, a principle member of the ANSI X3J14 technical committee studying Forth, described F-PC 2.25 to the Newsbytes news wire as an abomination, saying that it has far too many atomic words – the most primitive Forth functions. The F-PC 2.25 version of the Forth language has approximately 2200 atomic Forth words. Forth programmers use atomic words used to define higher levels of words upon which successively higher levels can be built. Baden is the author of both the command-line interpreter and the decompiler for Forth F83, the predecessor upon which F2.25 is based. The ANSI Forth standard’s committee is proposing a much smaller language with fewer than 300 atomic words – the ANSI standard, still being developed, currently has 132 words, and the fewer the atomic words, the more suitable the language is for the embedded applications for which it was originally designed. The proposed ANSI Forth standard is scheduled to ready be distributed for balloting this November, but it may be delayed until 1990. Among the features of the F-PC 2.25 release are a command-line interpreter, a multitasker, a text-search function, a high-level compiler-decompiler, an application generator, an 8086/87 assembler and disassembler, a single-step debugger, a core-image dump facility, source-code listing and indexing facilities, and a meta-compiler for system generation. It comes on four 360Kb disks, and sells for $25 for the cost of the disks and packaging. The user manual costs $20, the technical manual $30.

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