Questions tagged [compilers]

Historical compilers, or modern compilers targeting retro platforms.

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Looking for the name of a natural language Fortran compiler

Back in the 80s I ran across a book at a garage sale titled something like "Programming Fortran In English" or "Programming Fortran In Natural Language" that described a compiler ...
JockM's user avatar
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23 votes
3 answers
3k views

Why were OS/360 PL/I procedure calls so expensive in terms of stack space?

In 1977, Guy Steele published a paper entitled Debunking the “expensive procedure call” myth or, procedure call implementations considered harmful or, LAMBDA: The Ultimate GOTO. The paper was the ...
Alexis King's user avatar
32 votes
11 answers
12k views

Has there ever been a C compiler where using ++i was faster than i++?

Please take a look at this post: Is there a performance difference between i++ and ++i in C? There are two essential statements in the answer: Modern compiler produce the same machine code no matter ...
zomega's user avatar
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23 votes
2 answers
3k views

Using Clang to compile MS-DOS executables

I have a simple C program, and I would like to compile it targeting MS-DOS. Can this be achieved with Clang? I would like to produce the following formats: COM executable 16-bit MZ executable 32-bit ...
tpimh's user avatar
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6 votes
5 answers
3k views

Were there cross-compiler online services for the public?

Compiling takes computing power, and to a lesser extent, storage and memory. Back in the 70s and 80s personal computers weren't powerful enough to compile codes in high-level languages or if capable ...
Schezuk's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
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What were top-10 popular programming languages in the 60s, 70s, and the 80s?

TIOBE index has been tracking the most popular programming languages since 2001, which reflects the dominance of C/C++/Java in the first score of 21st century. However C derivatives hadn't beat Pascal ...
Schezuk's user avatar
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7 votes
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Is there really any implementation of a Ada compiler/cross-compiler/interpreter for 6502?

I found some Ada compilers for CP/M machines but no luck for 6502-based C64/Apple II/BBC Micro. I'm not sure if Abacus Ada on C64 exists or how much a subset it implements for Ada. There is, though, ...
Schezuk's user avatar
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17 votes
2 answers
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When did type punning through violating the strict aliasing rule become disallowed?

Looking at the C code from the Fast Inverse Square Root, the casting of a float to a long is done via pointer arithmetic: i = * ( long * ) &y; // evil floating point bit level hacking The ...
Adam Hyland's user avatar
21 votes
2 answers
694 views

What is the history of SysV i386 calling convention for struct return?

I would like to understand historical roots of the quirk in the SysV calling convention for the 32-bit x86, which was inherited by the ELF standard, and so remains used on Linux to this day. Consider ...
amonakov's user avatar
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14 votes
1 answer
879 views

What sequence of instructions is the equivalent to `fcomip` on i486?

Do you perhaps happen to know, what would be the easiest way to modify my AEC-to-x86 compiler (you can run the core of it in browser: https://flatassembler.github.io/compiler ) to be able to target ...
FlatAssembler's user avatar
13 votes
3 answers
3k views

Were Windows 3.x applications dependent upon 80286 instructions?

While Windows 3.x operating system stuck to the 80286 platform, did applications compiled for Windows 3.x have to use 80286 instructions explicitly or be aware of the 80286 memory layout? Or was it ...
Schezuk's user avatar
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23 votes
8 answers
7k views

Why were nested functions excluded from B and C?

I'm learning C and was curious as to why the language does not allow nested functions. From what I've read, the lack of nested functions seems to have been a simplification that was inherited from its ...
user51462's user avatar
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30 votes
4 answers
5k views

Most modern C compilers targeting DOS 8086, running on DOS 8086 (16-bit)

I'm looking for the most recent versions of modern C compilers which were/are targeting DOS 8086, also running on DOS 8086 (16-bit). I'm mostly interested in production-ready C compilers, rather than ...
pts's user avatar
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14 votes
1 answer
2k views

GCC to make Amiga executables, including Fortran support?

I have been compiling some command line programs to run on the classic Commodore Amiga. I started with GCC on WinUAE which worked but I realised I didn't have the understanding of the memory stack and ...
Lee Volante's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
521 views

What were the typical game development toolchains for the pre-i386 IBM PC era

On i386 and beyond (assuming MS-DOS as the target OS and IBM PC as the target platform), my impression is game developers most typically used Watcom C / DJGPP plus one of the DOS extenders (DOS4GW, ...
DmytroL's user avatar
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38 votes
6 answers
7k views

Why couldn't early C compilers handle variable declarations between statements?

In modern C, you may place variable declarations between statements: do_something(); int x; x = something_else(); However, older C compilers required that variables are declared before all statements:...
DrSheldon's user avatar
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1 answer
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Did any compilers hash long symbol names when truncating them?

Many early compilers and interpreters had maximum length for variable and function names. Usually you could use longer names but everything beyond e.g. the first 8 characters was discarded. This ...
jpa's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
367 views

When was a compiler first used to generate code to be placed in ROM?

In the early days of compilers, it was expected that programs would generally be stored in an inexpensive medium (such as punched cards or magnetic tape) when not in use. Although it was possible to ...
supercat's user avatar
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20 votes
1 answer
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How can I set up the Microsoft C compiler to make it prefer immediate-mode push instructions?

I started a project to get a better understanding on how to compile a game for Windows 3.x. I tried to set up the build workflow so that it produce the byte-exact clone of a great open sourced Win16 ...
SZIEBERTH Ádám's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
245 views

How to remove ___EXPORTEDSTUB statement from a NE (Win16) program's MAP?

I started a project to get a better understanding on how to compile a game for Windows 3.x. I tried to set up the build workflow so that it produce the byte-exact clone of a great open sourced Win16 ...
SZIEBERTH Ádám's user avatar
11 votes
7 answers
4k views

Did compilers ever give error messages without line numbers?

I'm having an argument with my friend, who told me that when she was learning programming in the 1980s, the compiler gave errors without line numbers. I'm pretty sure that compilers have always given ...
JoelFan's user avatar
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10 votes
1 answer
442 views

What sort of intermediate representation did the first Fortran compiler use?

Proebsting's Law asserts that improvements to compiler technology double the performance of typical programs every 18 years, but even granted that this is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, it's not really ...
rwallace's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
256 views

Which extant ALGOL-60 compilers fully support numeric labels?

This question is prompted by a related one by texdr.aft. It turns out that the Revised report on Algol-60 allowed numeric labels (3.5.1, page 15), <label> ::= <identifier> | <unsigned ...
Leo B.'s user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
335 views

Where can I find a copy of the HiSoft C compiler manual for ZX Spectrum?

I've been able to find the manual for the CPC version of HiSoft C, but not for the ZX. The only ones I could find appeared to have been OCRed, so virtually all of the necessary information was lost. ...
forest's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
678 views

What was the first compiler/interpreter/assembler to indicate problematic columns in diagnostic messages?

These days, most compilers and interpreters seem to provide the following in diagnostics: A description of the problem The name of the source file A line number A relevant position within the line ...
texdr.aft's user avatar
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13 votes
6 answers
829 views

Are there any primary sources for the “passing constant by reference” behavior in old Fortran compilers?

Occasionally I have heard references to a peculiarity of certain (old) Fortran compilers, with regards to subprogram argument passing. Here is an example, from an answer to a Stack Overflow question: ...
texdr.aft's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
228 views

When did cross-platform C start assuming function prototypes? [closed]

The most important difference between the original 'K&R' C, and ANSI/ISO C89/90, was function prototypes. These started being supported by some compilers in the mid-eighties, were formally ...
rwallace's user avatar
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22 votes
2 answers
2k views

Where and when did the ".s" suffix for assembly-language source files originate?

The closest I was able to find on StackOverflow is What are .S files?, in which no answerer addresses why we use .s for assembly. (And .S for preprocessor/macro assembly; and gcc -S to produce ...
Quuxplusone's user avatar
22 votes
10 answers
7k views

When if ever was the C language 'int' size altered from the host machine word (register) size into a literal 32 bit size?

From the earliest K&R reference manuals I read, 'int' was synonymous with machine word and it seemed to raise adverse reactions in various user domains. With the UNIX crowd, they minimally ...
MKhomo's user avatar
  • 462
34 votes
15 answers
12k views

When did compilers start generating optimized code that runs faster than an average programmer's assembly code?

It is highly unrecommended to write your own code in assembly now since, in most cases, gcc -O3 does magic. But in the ‘80s it was believed that compiled C code takes 4(?) times or more than a well-...
Schezuk's user avatar
  • 3,752
55 votes
13 answers
10k views

What languages are better fit for generating efficient code for 8-bit CPU's than C?

I found Why do C to Z80 compilers produce poor code? very interesting as it pointed out that C (which was leveraged to be an abstraction of a CPU for porting Unix) was not a very easy language to ...
Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen's user avatar
37 votes
9 answers
9k views

When and why did high-level language compilers start targeting assembly language rather than machine code?

From what I've read, the first FORTRAN compiler built a machine-code program entirely in memory; it was, in fact, designed to read the entire source code of the program, and then sequentially load ...
supercat's user avatar
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11 votes
1 answer
629 views

How much time and how many people were required to develop Delphi version 1?

I would guess the compiler was primarily a modification of Borland's Turbo Pascal, while the Integrated Development Environment and Visual Component Library required a lot more development from ...
joe's user avatar
  • 111
3 votes
3 answers
554 views

How can I get cl65 to include its subroutines, like pushax and tosmulax?

This question is about cc65, which is a toolkit including a C compiler, assembler, linker, etc. All targeting various 6502 computers, like the various 8 bit commodores, the Apple II and whatever else. ...
Omar and Lorraine's user avatar
4 votes
5 answers
1k views

Z88DK ZX Spectrum "%f" printf not working

I'm attempting to compile a program in C for the ZX Spectrum using Z88DK. However, I'm facing an issue when trying to use printf to print out the value of a float. The code I'm trying to compile: #...
cobbm's user avatar
  • 81
6 votes
2 answers
403 views

Why isn't the 'restrict' keyword useful in SDCC when compiling for Z80 target? [closed]

Context SDCC claims to support C11. I use it to write games on Z80 target (for fun and experience). C11 defines restrict C11 specifies the restrict keyword on pointers, which can improve generated ...
Stéphane Gourichon's user avatar
19 votes
0 answers
1k views

Oxford C compiler for Commodore 64

I kept one floppy from my Commodore 128 (which I used mostly in C64 mode), labelled ‘Oxford C compiler’. It is a 5.25″ floppy. Don't ask me why I kept just this one; probably because I thought I ...
Michel Keijzers's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
3k views

What was the first Lisp implementation that could generate machine code?

LISP is considered by some to be primarily an interpreted language, but compilers have been made for it. What was the first compiler? To be clear, this is about compilers that compile LISP code stored ...
cjs's user avatar
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3 votes
0 answers
424 views

How do Apple II BASIC compilers compare? [closed]

Programs like The Beagle Compiler allow AppleSoft BASIC or other Apple II BASIC variants to be compiled. How do the compilers compare in terms of compatibility with AppleSoft language features? Eg how ...
Michael Shopsin's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
502 views

Was dynamic type check in Pascal commonplace?

The BESM-6 Pascal compiler I'm experimenting with has a notable difference from Standard Pascal: formal arguments of formal parameters-procedures or functions are not specified, but are checked at ...
Leo B.'s user avatar
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17 votes
1 answer
2k views

ZSPL language, anyone heard of it?

While reading the Byte sieve article (Gilbreath 1981), I came across a language I have never heard of, ZSPL. I suspected this was actually a specific version of another language, perhaps PL/1. ...
Maury Markowitz's user avatar
60 votes
7 answers
16k views

Did any compiler fully use Intel x87 80-bit floating point?

There is a paradox about floating point that I'm trying to understand. Floating point is an eternal struggle with the problem that real numbers happen to be both essential and incomputable. It's the ...
rwallace's user avatar
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1 vote
2 answers
287 views

What was the first language compiler to support subtype polymorphism? [closed]

I'm trying to understand the history of Dependency Injection in compiled languages, as an intentional feature of the language. The Wikipedia article on the subject is decidedly Java focused, but I ...
Brian H's user avatar
  • 60.8k
6 votes
0 answers
261 views

How did the template cache in CFront work?

I've seen some discussion of how templates were historically implemented in CFront around the web, including here. The link describes the Borland model, which is familiar, and the CFront model with a ...
Greg Nisbet's user avatar
11 votes
4 answers
1k views

How was dataflow analysis performed before SSA?

If we look at something like LLVM or the GNU Compiler Collection, Dalvik and many others, their intermediate representation (IR) uses SSA (Static Single Assignment form), as part of their Data-Flow ...
Omar and Lorraine's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
656 views

BCC LD86 file has bad magic number

I wanted to write a simple hello world program in DOSBox, so I downloaded Bruce's C Compiler from here. And wrote this program (using edit.exe): #include <stdio.h> int main() { printf("...
MarinB's user avatar
  • 73
39 votes
5 answers
7k views

Is it possible to make a ROM converter?

Based on my understanding, an emulator is necessary because the machine with the emulator on it (say Windows), doesn't execute the same machine code as the target platform (6502, for example). So what ...
Badasahog's user avatar
  • 4,031
3 votes
3 answers
543 views

Was parsing or operating systems the first user of dollar sign as end of string/input?

According to the question Why did DOS use dollar-terminated strings? DOS uses dollar-terminated strings, inherited from CP/M which used them because DEC also used dollar as the string terminator. ...
juhist's user avatar
  • 983
-3 votes
2 answers
1k views

gcc: installation problem, cannot exec 'as': No such file or directory

How do I compile my code that I have typed on my SGI Indy computer? I have already tried to install the GCC/G++ compilers, but when I run my application, I get the error that says: gcc: ...
rjhwinner03's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
553 views

Why is the following p-Code generated by the Apple 3 pascal compiler?

On an Apple 3 the following pascal function function randu( High: integer): integer; begin randu:= random mod High end; will be translated to Proc = 06 Typ = P-Code codeBeg = 02A6 Exitcode=...
Tiza's user avatar
  • 156