Pascal is an imperative and procedural programming language, which Niklaus Wirth designed in 1968–69 and published in 1970, as a small, efficient language intended to encourage good programming practices using structured programming and data structuring. It is named in honor of the French mathematician, philosopher and physicist Blaise Pascal.
Pascal was developed on the pattern of the ALGOL 60 language. Wirth had already developed several improvements to this language as part of the ALGOL X proposals, but these were not accepted and Pascal was developed separately and released in 1970. A derivative known as Object Pascal designed for object-oriented programming was developed in 1985; this was used by Apple Computer and Borland in the late 1980s and later developed into Delphi on the Microsoft Windows platform. Extensions to the Pascal concepts led to the Pascal-like languages Modula-2 and Oberon.
Pascal was influenced by the ALGOL W efforts, with the explicit goals of producing a language that would be efficient both in the compiler and at run-time, allow for the development of well-structured programs, and to be useful for teaching students structured programming. A generation of students used Pascal as an introductory language in undergraduate courses.
One of the early successes for language was the introduction of UCSD Pascal, a version that ran on a custom operating system that could be ported to different platforms. A key platform was the Apple II, where it saw widespread use. This led to the use of Pascal becoming the primary high-level language used for development in the Apple Lisa, and later, the Macintosh. Parts of the original Macintosh operating system were hand-translated into Motorola 68000 assembly language from the Pascal sources.
The typesetting system TeX by Donald E. Knuth was written in WEB, the original literate programming system, based on DEC PDP-10 Pascal, while applications like Total Commander, Skype and Macromedia Captivate were written in Delphi (Object Pascal). Apollo Computer used Pascal as the systems programming language for its operating systems beginning in 1980.
Variants of Pascal have also frequently been used for everything from research projects to PC games and embedded systems. Newer Pascal compilers exist which are widely used.
Pascal, in its original form, is a purely procedural language and includes the traditional array of ALGOL-like control structures with reserved words such as if, then, else, while, for, and case ranging on a single statement or a begin-end statements block. Pascal also has data structuring constructs not included in the original ALGOL 60 types, like records, variants, pointers, enumerations, and sets and procedure/pointers. Such constructs were in part inherited or inspired from Simula 67, ALGOL 68, Niklaus Wirth’s own ALGOL W and suggestions by C. A. R. Hoare.
Pascal programs start with the program keyword with a list of external file descriptors as parameters (not required in Turbo Pascal etc.); then follows the main block bracketed by the begin and end keywords. Semicolons separate statements, and the full stop (i.e., a period) ends the whole program (or unit). Letter case is ignored in Pascal source.
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