The Community for Technology Leaders
RSS Icon
Subscribe
Issue No.01 - Jan.-March (2013 vol.35)
pp: 11-22
Scott Campbell , University of Waterloo
ABSTRACT
In 1965, four undergraduates at the University of Waterloo wrote Watfor, a fast student-oriented Fortran compiler for the school's IBM 7040, largely because the available Fortran compiler was slow and offered weak diagnostic and debugging tools. This article describes the birth and evolution of the Watfor family and explores how it fits into the University of Waterloo's unique-within-Canada cooperative education program and pedagogical philosophy.
INDEX TERMS
Computer science education, Education courses, Program processors, Computer languages, Watfor, history of computing, computer science, Canadian computing, Fortran, computer science education
CITATION
Scott Campbell, ""Wat For Ever:" Student-Oriented Computing at the University of Waterloo", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.35, no. 1, pp. 11-22, Jan.-March 2013, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2012.1
REFERENCES
1. D. Nofre, "Unraveling Algol: US, Europe, and the Creation of a Programming Language," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 32, no. 2, 2010, pp. 58–68.
2. For a brief overview of the situation, see C. Davidson, "The Emergence of Load-and-Go Systems for Fortran," Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 6, no. 1, 1984, pp. 35–37. The article is part of an excellent early special issue of the Annals dedicated to the history of Fortran.
3. For more on the role of users, see R. Kline and T. Pinch, "Users as Agents of Technological Change: The Social Construction of the Automobile in the Rural United States," Technology and Culture, vol. 37, no. 4, 1996, pp. 763–795; or N. Oudshoorn, and T. Pinch eds., , How Users Matter: The Co-construction of Users and Technologies, MIT Press, 2003.
4. For more on the founding of the University of Waterloo, see J. Scott, Of Mud and Dreams: University of Waterloo, 1957–1967, Ryerson Press, 1967; K. McLaughlin, Waterloo: An Illustrated History, 1857 to 2007, Windsor Publications, 1990; and K. McLaughlin, Out of the Shadow of Orthodoxy: Waterloo@50, Univ. of Waterloo, 2007.
5. Unfortunately, Graham died in 1999, not long after he retired, and could not be interviewed. However, his enormous personal archive was donated to the University of Waterloo over the following years and proved invaluable to this project.
6. Technically, it was not the first computer at the University of Waterloo. The school had tested the Bendix G-15 for a week in 1960, and the 1620 was on backorder, so Graham and the committee settled for a rented IBM 610 for about a year.
7. See, for example, R.F. Rosin, "Determining a Computing Center Environment," Comm. ACM, vol. 8, no. 7, 1965, pp. 463–468; or J.B. Dennis, "A Multiuser Computing Facility for Education and Research," Comm. ACM, vol. 7, no. 9, 1964, pp. 521–529.
8. K. King, "The Computing Center and the Academic Program," University Education in Computing Science, A. Finerman ed., Academic Press, 1968, pp. 178–180.
9. T.A. Keenan, "Sixth Survey of University Computing Facilities," tech. report, Computing Center, Univ. of Rochester, 1963, pp. 57–71.
10. See J.O. Sonuga, "The Computing Centre University of Waterloo," Univ. of Waterloo Archives, GA 133 J. Wesley Graham Fonds (UW Archives GA133), folder 955, p. 8;, and P.J Ponzo, Computer Science at Waterloo: A History to Celebrate 25 Years, 1967–1992, Univ. of Waterloo, 1992, p. 39.
11. J.W. Graham, "Computer Science in Engineering Education," Eng. Digest, vol. 10, no. 10, 1964, pp. 35–38, 40.
12. J. Peck et al., "Session III: Compiler Group: Informal Discussion 'Current Developments in Compiler Writing,'" Proc. Microwave Network Conf., J.F. Hart ed., Computer Science Assoc., 1964, p. 61.
13. P.A. Samet, "Software Requirements of Universities," The Computer J., vol. 11, no. 2, 1968, pp. 236–240.
14. Davidson,, "The Emergence of Load-and-Go Systems for Fortran," p. 35.
15. Davidson, "The Emergence of Load-and-Go Systems for Fortran," p. 36.
16. C.B. Germain, Programming the IBM 1620, Prentice-Hall, 1962, pp. 180–183.
17. Germain, Programming the IBM 1620, p. 124.
18. Davidson, "The Emergence of Load-and-Go Systems for Fortran," p. 36.
19. Anonymous, "A Comparison of FORGO and Fortran II D for the 1620-1443-1311 System from a User's (Programming) Viewpoint," UW Archives GA133, folder 1007.
20. At one point more than 400 schools were using Forgo. Davidson, "The Emergence of Load-and-Go Systems for Fortran," p. 37.
21. Ralph Stanton was visiting Wisconsin for a lecture series and was accompanied by a promising undergraduate named Angus "Gus" German. German discovered Forgo and surreptitiously copied a deck of punched cards to bring back to Waterloo. Ponzo, Computer Science at Waterloo, p. 25.
22. J.O. Sonuga, "The Computing Centre University of Waterloo," UW Archives GA133, folder 955. 1966, pp. 15, 33.
23. Graham, "Computer Science in Engineering Education."
24. The University of Toronto had the oldest computing program in Canada, having created its Computation Center in 1948. Acquiring the IBM 7090 in 1962 was possible thanks to its experience, reputation, connections, and political savvy. See M.R. Williams, "UTEC and Ferut: The University of Toronto's Computation Centre," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 16, no. 2, 1994, pp. 4–12; S.M. Campbell, "The Premise of Computer Science: Establishing Modern Computing at the University of Toronto (1945–1964)," doctoral thesis, Inst. for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, Univ. of Toronto, 2006; and "Census of Computers in Canada," The Computer Soc. of Canada Quarterly Bull., vol. 5, no. 4, 1965.
25. W.P. Heising, "The Emergence of Fortran IV from Fortran II," Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 6, no. 1, 1984, pp. 32–33.
26. See J.E. Sammet, "History of IBM's Technical Contributions to High Level Programming Languages," IBM J. Research and Development, vol. 25, no. 5, 1981, pp. 520–534, 530–531, and "Faster IBM Fortran Doesn't Scare Digitek," Datamation, Oct. 1964, p. 19. In 1967, IBM Canada was promoting Quiktran as part of its time-sharing service to users that could not afford a computer. See "Time-sharing by QUIKTRAN," IBM Canadian News, vol. 14, no. 9, Oct. 1967, pp. 9–11.
27. P.W. Shantz et al., Introduction to Watfor, Univ. of Waterloo, Aug. 1965.
28. P.W. Shantz, "Working Group on Writing a Fortran IV Compiler," UW Archives GA133, folder 1229, Apr. 1965.
29. Originally appeared in Univ. of Waterloo Quarterly Bull., vol. 6, no. 3, 1965.
30. Although their notes refer to several publications related to Algol compilers, there was never any doubt at Waterloo that they would be writing a Fortran compiler.
31. See P.W. Shantz memo, UW Archives GA133, folder 1229, 30 Apr. 1965, and R. Shirley, "Meeting of April 30, 1965," UW Archives GA133, folder 1229, 30 Apr. 1965.
32. See "Meeting of May 14, 1965," UW Archives GA133, folder 1232, 14 May 1965; and "Fortran IV Compiler Writing Group Meeting," UW Archives GA133, folder 1232, 21 May 1965.
33. S.C. Hope to Mr. James, letter, UW Archives GA133, folder 88, 11 May 1966.
34. The IBM 7044 was slightly faster, but the two machines were fundamentally compatible.
35. "Watfor Test," UW Archives GA133, folder 1220, 24 Aug. 1965.
36. "Computer Science. Memorandum to All Faculty and Graduate Students," UW Archives GA133, folder 1132, 7 Sept. 1965.
37. "Information Release: Student-Developed System Results in 500 2000-14 Box29-1," Univ. of Waterloo, 5 Oct. 1965.
38. In a peculiar twist, the short three-paragraph Watfor news item appeared in the same Nov. 1965 issue that published a description of the design and capabilities of Purdue University's similar PUFFT for the IBM 7090. S. Rosen, R.A. Spurgeon, and J.K. Donnelly, "PUFFT—The Purdue University Fast FORTRAN Translator," Comm. ACM, vol. 8, no. 11, 1965, pp. 661–666. Shantz and his team would write a similar article describing the main design considerations and features of Watfor. P.W. Shantz et al., "WATFOR—The University of Waterloo Fortran IV Compiler," Comm. ACM, vol. 10, no. 1, 1967, pp. 41–44., However, by the time the journal received the Watfor article in July 1966, the compiler was already well known to the 7040/44 community and Graham had a new team working on a version for the IBM System/360.
39. See A. Atsushi, "Voluntarism and the Fruits of Collaboration: The IBM User Group, Share," Technology and Culture, vol. 42, no. 4, 2001, pp. 710–736.
40. "Installations Who Have Requested Watfor," UW Archives GA133, folder 1220, 8 Nov. 1965.
41. B. McClure to S. Hope letter, UW Archives GA133, folder 1225, 1 Nov. 1965.
42. J. Whitely to S. Hope letter, UW Archives GA133, folder 1220, 23 Nov. 1965.
43. A. Ralston, "Newsletter #9," UW Archives GA133, folder 1220.
44. "Installations Who Have Requested Watfor," UW Archives GA133, folder 1220, 30 Aug. 1966.
45. R.F. Rosin, "On PUFFT," Comm. ACM, vol. 9, no. 2, 1966, p. 59.
46. E.D. Kingsbury to J.W. Graham letter, UW Archives GA133, folder 1220, 15 Nov. 1966.
47. F.K. Dietzler to S. Hope letter, UW Archives GA133, folder 1220, 3 Mar. 1967.
48. Ponzo, Computer Science at Waterloo, p. 31.
49. "Watfor Unveiled," information release, UW Archives GA133, folder 1220, 6 Mar. 1967.
50. For example, whereas the IBM 7040 version used a symbol table with fixed-length words, the symbol table of the new version was managed with linked lists. P.H. Cress et al., "Description of /360 Watfor: A Fortran-IV Compiler,", Research Report #1000, Dept. Applied Analysis and Computer Science, Univ. of Waterloo, Apr. 1968, p. 295.
51. P.H. Cress, P.H. Dirksen, and J.W. Graham, FORTRAN IV with WATFOR, Prentice-Hall, 1968, pp. 369–374.
52. "Design Objectives of 360 WATFOR," UW Archives GA133, folder 1220.
53. P.H. Cress et al., "Announcement of /360 Watfor Compiler," UW Archives GA133, folder 1178, Feb. 1967, p. 4.
54. Cress et al., "Announcement of /360 Watfor Compiler," pp. 6–7.
55. S.C. Hope, "/360 WATFOR Compiler Information Package," UW Archives GA133, folder 1220, 1967.
56. See, for example, L. Presser and J. Benson, "Evaluation of Compiler Diagnostics," The Computer J., vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 121–123; and S. Siegel, "WATFOR: Speedy Fortran Debugger," Datamation, vol. 17, 15 Nov. 1972, pp. 22–26.
57. Ponzo, Computer Science at Waterloo, p. 32.
58. D.D. Cowan et al. "Development of Educational Software Using the DEC PDP-11," SIGMINI Newsletter, vol. 2, no. 2, 1976, p. 9.
59. "Computer Systems Group," UW Archives GA133, folder 917, 3 Jan. 1973.
60. A. Shurgalla, "Special Report: Academic Computing at Waterloo—An Interview with Wes Graham," Perspectives in Computing, vol. 2, no. 2, 1982, p. 41.
61. Cowan et al., "Development of Educational Software Using the DEC PDP-11."
62. See J.W. Graham Officer of the Order of Canada Citation, 1999, http://csg.uwaterloo.ca/jwgrahamjwgoc.html , and C. Leitch, "When the Leaving Is Easy," The Globe and Mail,11 Jan. 1994, B20.
63. Ponzo, Computer Science at Waterloo, p. 32.
64. Cress, Dirksen, and Graham, FORTRAN IV With WATFOR. See also J.M. Blatt, Introduction to Fortran IV Programming: Using the WATFOR/ WATFIV Compilers, Goodyear Pub. Co., 1971; D.D. McCracken, A Guide to FORTRAN IV Programming, Wiley, 1972; C.J. Sass, FORTRAN IV Programming and Applications, Holden-Day, 1974; T.M. Walker, Fundamentals of FORTRAN Programming: With WATFOR/WATFIV, Allyn and Bacon, 1975; R.M. Jaffe, A Clear Introduction to FORTRAN IV: Including Standard FORTRAN, WATFOR, and WATFIV, Duxbury Press, 1979.
65. "University of Waterloo Information Services, Computer Book a Runaway Best Seller," UW Archives GA133, folder 1235, 26 Oct. 1970.
66. See ACM Award Citation for Paul E. Dirksen and ACM Award Citation for Paul H. Cress, http://awards.acm.orghopper.
67. P.E. Ceruzzi, A History of Modern Computing, MIT Press, 1998, pp. 202–203.
68. Davidson, "The Emergence of Load-and-Go Systems for Fortran," p. 37.
69. Scott, Of Mud and Dreams. J.W. Graham, "A Co-operative Course in Honours Mathematics with Actuarial and Computer Science Options," CDPSC Quarterly Bull., vol. 4, no. 3, 1964, pp. 15–16.
70. Graham, "A Co-operative Course in Honours Mathematics with Actuarial and Computer Science Options," pp. 15–16.
71. Graham, "Computer Science in Engineering Education."
72. Davidson notes that the University of Wisconsin lacked the necessary resources to forge ahead as Waterloo did. Davidson, "The Emergence of Load-and-Go Systems for Fortran," p. 37.
73. R. Argyle, "Industry Profile: Wes Graham of Waterloo U," Computer Data, vol. 1, no. 1, May 1976, pp. 29–30.
74. M. Campbell-Kelly, From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog: A History of the Software Industry, MIT Press, 2003, p. 118.
75. See J. Steed, "The Campus Where Computer Is King," The Globe and Mail,27 Sept. 1982, p. 7, which refers to a Honeywell study ranking Waterloo above Stanford University and MIT.
76. C. Bruman, "High Tech at Waterloo," Macleans, vol. 96, May 1983, pp. 52d, 52f.
77. Ponzo, Computer Science at Waterloo, p. 108.
468 ms
(Ver 2.0)

Marketing Automation Platform Marketing Automation Tool