:: History of Pascal ::

The language Component Pascal was the culmination of several decades of research. It was the youngest member of the Algol family of languages. Algol, defined in 1960, was the first high-level language with a readable, structured, and systematically defined syntax.

In the late sixties, several proposals for an evolutionary successor to Algol were developed. The most successful one was Pascal, defined in 1970 by Prof. Niklaus Wirth at ETH Zurich, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.
His [Prof. Niklaus] principle objectives for Pascal were for the language to be efficient to implement and run, allow for the development of well structured and well organized programs, and to serve as a vehicle for the teaching of the important concepts of computer programming. Pascal, which was named after the mathematician Blasť Pascal, is a direct descendent from ALGOL 60, which Wirth helped develop. Pascal also draws programming components from ALGOL 68 and ALGOL-W. The original published definition for the Pascal language appeared in 1971 with latter revisions published in 1973. It was designed to teach programming techniques and topics to college students and was the language of choice to do so from the late 1960's to the late 1980's.

Pascal received a big boost when ETH released a Pascal compiler that produced a simple intermediate code for a virtual machine (P-code), instead of true native code for a particular machine. This simplified porting Pascal to other processor architectures considerably, because only a new P-code interpreter needed be written for this purpose, not a whole new compiler. One of these projects had been undertaken at the University of California, San Diego. Remarkably, this implementation (UCSD Pascal) didn't require a large and expensive mainframe computer, it ran on the then new Apple II personal computers. This gave Pascal a second important boost. The third one came when Borland released Turbo Pascal, a fast and inexpensive compiler, and integrated development environment for the IBM PC. Later, Borland revived its version of Pascal when it introduced the rapid application development environment Delphi.

Pascal has greatly influenced the design and evolution of many other languages, from Ada to Visual Basic.

:: Application Areas ::

Pascal contains some significant language features that allow it to used as a powerful learning tool in introducing structured programming techniques:

The Prime area of application that Pascal entails is the learning environment. This language was not really developed to be used for anything other than teaching students the basics of programming, after all it was originally developed for this purpose. In the early 1970's to the early 1990's Pascal was the language of choice for most major colleges and universities for teaching college level programming techniques. Now with the growing popularity of Object Orient Programming Pascal has taken a back seat to other languages such as C++ and Visual Basic.