I've recently written a Wiki article on the Creative Computing benchmark. I was wondering if anyone has examples of it being used outside Creative Computing?

I've found one example in Compute!, but I'd like to add more for balance. Ideally these would be examples of people using it as a contemporary test, but modern examples would add flavour too.

Examples of the Byte Sieve would also be appreciated.

UPDATE: I see I missed some key context: I'm looking for examples of people using the benchmark today to compare retrocomputers. I see many examples of this in blogs and forums, but I don't get around enough the print world outside the Atari space to find examples there.

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    @alephzero-interesting question, none of the listings mentions it one way or the other. Mar 18, 2019 at 16:29
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    Another benchmark that came BEFORE Ahl's Benchmark (Creative Computing, Nov 1983, pg 260), but quite unknown, is the Broucke Benchmark which was designed to find flaws in floating point arithmetic. It was published on page 16 of the Oct/Nov 1982 issue of ANTIC magazine. Of the 75 languages I have tested, none get the S result 100% correct. The closest is MSX BASIC, Tandy 100 BASIC and TI-99/4A BASIC. The code follows: 50 S=0 100 X=0 200 FOR N=1 TO 1000 300 S=S+X*X 400 X=X+0.00123 500 NEXT N 600 PRINT “RESULTS: S=”;S;”, X=”;X 700 PRINT “CORRECT: S=503.543802149, X=1.23”
    – Tim Locke
    Mar 18, 2019 at 19:51
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    @TimLocke the correct value for s is not 503.543802149, but 503.54380215 (= 10070876043 / 20000000). The somewhat obscure Microsoft BASIC v2.00 [Decimal Math] for Macintosh interpreter (1984) gets it right, but it uses decimal arithmetic so avoids the issue entirely.
    – scruss
    Mar 18, 2019 at 20:55
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    @TimLocke I just found out that MSX Basic used BCD maths, which is why it gets the right answer. Most systems that use binary floating point will get that last digit of s wrong.
    – scruss
    Mar 18, 2019 at 23:44
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    @TimLocke - yes, they both do. In their respective manuals they give limits for floating point that are clearly decimal with binary exponents: the model 100 manual gives a single precision (4 byte) range of ±1×10⁶² and ±1×10¯⁶⁴
    – scruss
    Mar 20, 2019 at 1:02

1 Answer 1


While it's impossible to give a definitive negative answer, I'd say that it's unlikely that other publications depended on Ahl's benchmark, because:

  1. It tests just the looping performance and accuracy of interpreted floating-point BASIC. Rugg & Feldman's BASIC Timing Comparisons (updated edition, Kilobaud Microcomputer magazine, October 1977) that later morphed into the PCW Benchmarks, tested many more aspects of BASIC performance and were a more useful benchmark suite.

  2. Later single tests such as Byte's Sieve (1981) showed — as far as a benchmark that may be susceptible to rigged results can — that different compilers and interpreters amongst many different platforms had wildly varying performance results. As built-in BASIC performance became less of a sales draw, simple interpreter tests faded away.

  3. Consequently, ports of Ahl's benchmark to other languages are more down to the skill of the porter and the compiler's optimizer than the intrinsic speed of the target. The presence/absence of additional whitespace characters could affect the performance of some BASIC interpreters, so results from Ahl's benchmark even in its original language could also depend on the typist.

  4. As founder and editor-in-chief of Creative Computing, David Ahl would naturally promote his own benchmark in his own publication. Other publishers might not have felt so charitable towards something “not invented here”.

It might be interesting to hear Roy Longbottom's opinion (he's a SE Member!) on these kinds of benchmarks, as he's been involved in system benchmarking since Algol 60.

  • While not an answer, I think the reasoning used is quite compelling.
    – Raffzahn
    Mar 18, 2019 at 23:28
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    It's an answer: I'm saying no, or at least, very unlikely. Maybe I was too subtle?
    – scruss
    Mar 18, 2019 at 23:41
  • Being subtle and make upt a good reasoning is eventually the better way - there have been (and still are) way to many publication on this planet to be sure.
    – Raffzahn
    Mar 19, 2019 at 7:55
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    @JeremyP as it now does for me; no doubt a laissez-faire banner advertising provider was involved in my experience earlier.
    – Tommy
    Mar 19, 2019 at 12:46
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    @Tommy - looked fine to me, but I adblock everywhere. Apologies if the link was dubious. I've replaced it with something less dodgy (but missing some of the commentary).
    – scruss
    Mar 19, 2019 at 13:02

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