Re: lower case

Andy Walker <>
Sat, 12 Nov 2022 01:12:58 +0000

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From: Andy Walker <>
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: Sat, 12 Nov 2022 01:12:58 +0000
Organization: Not very much
References: 22-11-003
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Keywords: syntax, history, comment
Posted-Date: 12 Nov 2022 07:21:57 EST
Content-Language: en-GB

On 10/11/2022 20:57, gah4 wrote:
> I am wondering about the history of lower case letters
> in programming languages, [...].
> The first I know about is C. Ones I knew before then
> didn't allow then at all, though it might be that some DEC
> compilers would ignore case.
> [(...) Algol60 was specified in lower case
> but most implementations were upper case only.

I think that's almost entirely down to the equipment available.
Eg, those of us who had Flexowriters [essentially electric typewriters
with paper tape facilities] expected to write programs in the same way
that we typed letters. Not just the programs, we were also early into
"word processing", and I remember the pleasure we got when someone
found out how to make the Flexowriter half space, so that it became
possible to "justify" lines without the jarring switch from single to
double spacing towards the end of most lines, but could instead go to
one-and-a-half spacing. I also recall the culture shock when, around
four years later, I had my first encounter with punched cards, and had
to give up lower case, and with it most of the fun programming I was
[somewhat illicitly] doing.

> I can't think
> of a language before C that was actually implemented in lower
> case but I wouldn't count on it being the first. -John]

Quite apart from Algol, Atlas Autocode was lower case. Keywords
were supposed to be underlined. However this was sufficiently tedious
that an upper case facility was quickly introduced, and most programs
[or programmes as we called them in those days in Rightpondia] started
with the [underlined] instruction "upper case delimiters". Underlining
involved backspacing to the start of the word and going over it again
with the "_" characters, so was three times as much typing [and was also
very slow when printing].

Andy Walker, Nottingham.
        Andy's music pages:
        Composer of the day:
[Oh, yeah, Flexowriters, where you did not want to put your coffee to the
left of one because the carriage will knock it over when it returns. I
used one with a Packard Bell (later Raytheon) 250 but I don't recall
any details of the input syntax for the languages it used. -John]

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