Lots of people have been talking about the death of Andrew Singer. I heard about it when Rich Siegel (of BBEdit) mentioned it on Twitter.1 I first learned to program when a young kid on USCD Pascal on an Apple ][+ and then, believe it or not, Fortran on a card reader. My dad had got permission for me to attend both college classes while he was finishing up a second masters on sabbatical. I can’t say I understood everything, although I did quickly learn what happened when you dropped a pile of Fortran cards. The card reader and mainframe were salvaged the following year. Interestingly one of the teachers of my Pascal class went on to write Wordperfect. I remember him demoing some early code – then on an Apple. However what really got me into truly programming was Lightspeed Pascal and Lightspeed C. Those were the first new generation languages that went on to influence pretty much every development system since, including those on Windows.
The neatest thing about Lightspeed Pascal that other editors still don’t support was editing with proportional fonts. Since most Macs in those days were monochrome keywords were shown via bold text.2 I still frequently wish Xcode did this.
It was a sign of how clueless Apple was at the time that they never snapped up the development system. They continued to push their MPW system, which in my opinion was overpriced and no where near as good. Especially for debugging. Eventually Singer’s compiler became Codewarrior. I still remember the excitement with the switch. (I had a T-shirt from them I used to wear programming) In turn that became bought by Motorola which was the beginning of the end. Codewarrior remained a great program3 but because it wasn’t owned by Apple it always caused problems. Apple couldn’t push their latest technologies in PowerPlant, the class library Codewarrior used. Many big projects didn’t switch until the Intel transition not that many years ago.
It’s hard to explain just how big a difference Think C was. There were many programming languages for the Mac but it honestly was shocking how poor Apple’s own tools were. For several years you basically had to buy a Lisa just to write Mac programs. I tried several languages but it was really when Lightspeed C got me that I think I finally started writing real programs and not just small hacks.
- Here’s his post on Singer. ↩
- All images are from this post on Think C and Think Pascal, successors to the Lightspeed versions. ↩
- I say great but by that time I used to frequently swear at it – I’d become rather enamored of certain features that Microsoft Visual Studio had. Still, for debugging it was head and shoulders above Project Builder, the predecessor of Xcode. ↩