Daniel Solomon & David Rosenblueth
Department of Computer Science, University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1
With such a large selection of programming languages it can be
difficult to choose one for a particular project. Reading the manuals to
evaluate the languages is a time consuming process. On the other hand,
most people already have a fairly good idea of how various automobiles
compare. So in order to assist those trying to choose a language, we
have prepared a chart that matches programming languages with comparable
Assembler - A Formula I race car. Very fast, but difficult to drive and
expensive to maintain.
FORTRAN II - A Model T Ford. Once it was king of the road.
FORTRAN IV - A Model A Ford.
FORTRAN 77 - A six-cylinder Ford Fairlane with standard transmission and
no seat belts.
COBOL - A delivery van. It's bulky and ugly, but it does the work.
BASIC - A second-hand Rambler with a rebuilt engine and patched
upholstry. Your dad bought it for you to learn to drive.
You'll ditch the car as soon as you can afford a new one.
PL/I - A Cadillac convertible with automatic transmission, a two-
tone paint job, white-wall tires, chrome exhaust pipes, and
fuzzy dice hanging in the windshield
C - A black Firebird, the all-macho car. Comes with optional
seat belts (lint) and optional fuzz buster (escape to
ALGOL 60 - An Austin Mini. Boy, that's a small car.
Pascal - A Volkswagon Beetle. It's small but sturdy. Was once
popular with intellectuals.
Modula II - A Volkswagon Rabbit with a trailer hitch.
ALGOL 68 - An Astin Martin. An impressive car, but not just anyone
can drive it.
LISP - An electric car. It's simple but slow. Seat belts are not
PROLOG/LUCID - Prototype concept-cars.
Maple/MACSYMA - All-terrain vehicles.
FORTH - A go-cart.
LOGO - A kiddie's replica of a Rolls Royce. Comes with a real
engine and a working horn.
APL - A double-decker bus. Its takes rows and columns of
passengers to the same place all at the same time. But, it
drives only in reverse gear, and is instrumented in Greek.
Ada - An army-green Mercedes-Benz staff car. Power steering,
power brakes and automatic transmission are all standard.
No other colors or options are available. If it's good
enough for the generals, it's good enough for you.
Manufacturing delays due to difficulties reading the
design specification are starting to clear up.