1990: Programming languages

In 1990, I drew thirteen cartoons for the computing industry press. They were never published, so here they are from the Beholder archive. They have no particular artistic merit, but they’re mildly interesting from a nostalgically geeky point of view.

8. Algol

Ah, Algol. I did the core of my Computer Science in Algol68 (on VMS/VAX). It was like a grounding in Latin — cumbersome, ruthlessly grammatical, and to all intents and purposes a dead language except amongst the priesthood that taught it. But it certainly served as a solid background for all the block-structured languages I ever came across later. Our young minds were also trained to recurse rather than iterate, which Algol seemed to enjoy, but which is a habit we were quickly disabused of once we were out in the real world. Algol was very proud of the fact that its UPPER CASE keywords made it possible to have spaces in variable names, which, honestly, is not quite as game-changing as they wanted us to believe. The rest of the programming world manages just fine with the underscore, really.

I named these verbose cartoons “the Need To Know Guide to Programming Languages”. Note that this was nothing to do with Danny O’Brien & Dave Green’s Need to Know (NTK) newsletter, which did not come along for another seven years (and to which I enthusiastically subscribed).

You’re free to use the illustration for anything provided you attribute Beholder as the source (a CC BY 4.0 license).

See more vintage Beholder nostalgia.