For the love of Pascal

I don’t make much of a secret of it, but while I was in high school, and the first year of college, I loved Pascal. And not just any Pascal, but Borland Turbo Pascal 5.5 .

While in highschool, we used these Unix “like” work stations, the “ICON” running QNX. Since it was another one of those built by Canadians for Canadians type thing we couldn’t use Borland, instead we used this knockoff called Turing. While the bootleg floppy I had of Turing gave up the ghost (bad sectors, argh!) I recall that it was strictly interpreted, and they did have a version that ran on MS-DOS..

Anyways, fast forward and I moved to the United States, and of course we didn’t use weird knockoffs, we used.. Borland Pascal.

And it compiled.

Oh, and it could build TSR’s!

Man it was AWESOME. I even could coax it to run in protected mode, along with dosx.exe, the dos extender bundled in Windows 3.1 . Although much to my dismay, only ‘tiny’ or programs restricted to 64kb could run in this mode, as the libraries were not even slightly protected mode safe. In my opinion between the industry at the time holding so dearly to the brain dead 80286, and charging a FORTUNE for protected mode tools, it really did drive people mad.

Anyways I eventually had to come to terms with C, but I’ll admit, for the first while, I used EMX under OS/2 and p2c (GNU p2c Pascal), as a great crutch.

So while browsing around, I came to some bbs source code page, And I was surprised to see a few things… An early BBS for Unix SYS III, another one for Xenix, and WWIV when it was all in Pascal, ported from version 3.0 to 7.0. And they (among all the others) include SOURCE CODE!

Then searching with a ‘known known’, I turned up this excellent resource in Russia,, which has a good amount of pascal source.

A while back, I did take the Pascal source to TradeWars 2001, and port it to C, so maybe I’ll do something with this wealth of Pascal source…

And of course, for anyone feeling retro, don’t forget, that Turbo Pascal 5.5 is free! (like beer), and runs under DOSBox.

3 thoughts on “For the love of Pascal

  1. Turbo Pascal is still an awesome programming environment in many ways. It's only real problem is that the CRT unit doesn't like fast computers, so anything that's compiled using it will crash on a fast computer. Thankfully, most people would probably be running TP under Dosbox these days, which means that the "system speed" is mainly a user-controlled value 🙂

  2. Hi!

    I've just stumpled across your blog and it's very intresting to read.

    I'm a developer who's still using Pascal, but not Turbo Pascal (though I started with version 6 and 7 some years ago). Instead I'm using the free and open source Free Pascal which provides a Turbo Pascal compatible language mode (I prefer to use the more modern dialects of FPC though).

    Unlike TP it's a multiplatform crosscompiler. It supports the CPU families i386, x86_64, ARM, PowerPC, PowerPC64 and MIPS, operating systems like Win32, Win64, WinCE, Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OS, Mac OS X, OS/2, DOS (using the go32v2 extender) and more exotic targets like Nintendo DS, Gameboy Advance, Nintendo Wii and embedded systems for the CPUs. Also it provides an IDE that resembles the Turbo Pascal IDE somewhat.

    Reading your blog it seems that I need to take a look at a non-i386 Windows NT myself and check whether I can port FPC there 😉


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