Pascal is a programming language designed by Niklaus Wirth in the 1970's. It was intended for general use, and, due to its readable syntax and structured code, is suitable for educational purposes.
"Occasionally, it has been claimed that Pascal was designed as a language for teaching. Although this is correct, its use in teaching was not the only goal. In fact, I do not believe in using tools and formalisms in teaching that are inadequate for any practical task." - Niklaus Wirth, from the 1984 ACM A.M. Turing award lecture.
Because of the popularity of various implementations such as the original UCSD Pascal in the 1980s, and Borland International's development of the Turbo Pascal for the MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows operating systems, Delphi for Microsoft Windows, and the Kylix implementation of Delphi for Linux, the Pascal programming language has become powerful enough to be used for general purpose application program development.
Examples of how powerful the Pascal language is include -
- The original UCSD Pascal compiler, and most of the run-time system, were themselves written in Pascal.
- The development of Borland International's Turbo Pascal version 6, in which the program editor and integrated development environment were written in Pascal.
- The framework created as part of Turbo Pascal 6 for users to design certain applications similar to the program editor, which was called Turbo vision, was also written in Pascal.
- This compiler, the FPC Pascal Compiler, is itself written in Pascal.
- The first versions of TeX, a high-level language for scientific publishing and equation setting, and of Mac OS, one of the most influential operating systems, were written in Pascal.
Pascal is a compiled language as fast and capable as C, and now features Object Oriented features (Object Pascal) that bring it up to date. Free Pascal with the Lazarus IDE provides a great way to develop GUI applications easily and freely, that most other alternatives cannot match. Many of the commonly used programming languages are Closed Source or are otherwise dependent upon commercial enterprises. Of the Free alternatives, most are slow (interpreted) scripting languages that are much more difficult to use in order to develop GUI forms.
"I can do everything in Pascal that can be done in C, but in a more elegant manner." - Ingemar Ragnemalm, noted shareware author and author.
A good defence of Pascal's capabilities can be found at