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.

2. Pascal

Although most people who have heard of Pascal probably assume it was only ever used in classrooms, my first heavyweight programming job was on the Unisys BTOS implementation of the UK’s HOLMES police computer system, and was written in Pascal. There was one important modification for the Pascal we were using, though: a system call that allowed us to duplicate variables by copying memory location ranges, which meant the program could and did depend on variables’ values without ever refering to their names. This is a terrible idea for maintenance and debugging, and caused us a lot of trouble.

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.