We are having a frank exchange of views here in the office.

We were discussing the heydays of home PCs, back in the early 80s, when there were a plethora to choose from, most running some form of BASIC, some, like the Jupiter Ace, running Forth, and someone claimed that there had been a home PC which ran JOVIAL.

Give that it is a military language, that seems unlikely, but that person is adamant, albeit with a memory gap where the name of the PC should be.

Does anyone know of a(n early 80s) home PC which ran JOVIAL?

Btw, feel free to edit for better tags.

  • I guess it depends on your definition of 'the PC ran language X". Was it standard software? Probably not. Did someone get a floppy from someone who implemented a compiler, maybe a custom compiler? Quite possible.
    – dirkt
    Sep 28, 2018 at 7:20
  • What I meant was that PCs in those days generally came with no operating system as such and an interpreted language - did any exist which ran JOVIAL as standard? Personally, I only know it as a compiled language, although there does exist an interpreted dialect
    – Mawg
    Sep 28, 2018 at 8:07
  • If you mean "homecomputer" by "PC", an not "IBM PC", then as a rule these came with Basic in ROM. All other languages (and there were a lot of them) came on floppies. Googling shows that Jovial seems to be an Algol-like language, so it was very likely compiled. Which means chances of an existing homecomputer with Jovial in ROM are next to zero (certainly none of the better known ones did). It's quite possible there was an existing homecomputer with someone having a floppy with a Jovial compiler. And in that respect, it wouldn't have been that different from, say, Pascal. Or Ada.
    – dirkt
    Sep 28, 2018 at 11:07
  • 1
    JOVIAL compilers were available for the IBM 7090, CDC 1604, Philco 2000, and various military computers like the Burroughs D825 and the IBM AN/FSQ-7. What these seem to have in common is a 36+ bit word length. Was a DEC PDP-10-in-a-desktop ever produced? (The Heathkit H-11 is a 16-bit PDP-11 clone so that doesn't count.) Sep 28, 2018 at 19:38
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    Um, the Wikipedia page lists lots of CPU targets that are not 36+ bit word length, so clearly that is not a requirement. I had an Algol compiler for CP/M, so clearly an Algol-like language for 8bit homecomputers would have been possible.
    – dirkt
    Sep 30, 2018 at 5:46

1 Answer 1


I recall something from 1983-4 which might be what your friend is remembering. It's an interactive Algol-68 system, which has run on many platforms, including MS-DOS PCs. It was an incremental compiler, rather than an interpreter, but it presented the same kind of user interface as BASIC in ROM, in that you typed in statements and they were run immediately.

I've never used JOVIAL, but I did a term paper on Algol-like languages in the early 1980s, and JOVIAL is much like Algol-60, except with better input-output. An Algol-68 environment would probably have been quite useful to a JOVIAL programmer, and the difference might have been obscured.


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