Thu, 6 Aug 87 05:19:12 edt

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From: decvax!utzoo!henry
Date: Thu, 6 Aug 87 05:19:12 edt
References: <628@ima.ISC.COM>

> o BLISS compilers are difficult to implement and the only "public-domain"
> compiler was written in BLISS-10 for the PDP-11
> o We (the DEC developers) didn't do an adequate job of making the language
> "available" to our customers...

It seems to me that a combination of these two factors is the big reason
why BLISS did not make it as a language. The lack of strong typing did have
its problems, but C started out being almost as casual about this (although
it is now a fairly strongly-typed language, contrary to popular misconception)
and succeeded nevertheless. In many ways C has succeeded where BLISS failed,
as a high-level language that even the skeptics could accept as a near-total
replacement for assembler. It seems to me that by far the biggest factor in
the acceptance of C (as opposed to BLISS, I mean) was the existence of a
fairly good compiler in a popular operating system running on a popular and
cheap machine. It's ironic that said machine was DEC's own PDP11. If DEC
had invested the effort to build a good native BLISS compiler for the 11 --
*not* a cross-compiler, most PDP11 sites did not have a PDP10 handy! -- and
made it widely available, BLISS might have stolen a lot of C's thunder.

Henry Spencer @ U of Toronto Zoology

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