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4. Forth > The Forth Language and Language Design

The Forth Language and Language Design

How do you define Forth?

Chuck Moore: Forth is a computer language with minimal syntax. It features an explicit parameter stack that permits efficient subroutine calls. This leads to postfix expressions (operators follow their arguments) and encourages a highly factored style of programming with many short routines sharing parameters on the stack.

I read that the name Forth stands for fourth-generation software. Would you like to tell us more about it?

Chuck: Forth is derived from “fourth,” which alludes to "fourth-generation computer language.” As I recall, I skipped a generation. FORTRAN/COBOL were first-generation languages; Algol/Lisp, second. These languages all emphasized syntax. The more elaborate the syntax, the more error checking is possible. Yet most errors occur in the syntax. I determined to minimize syntax in favor of semantics. And indeed, Forth words are loaded with meaning.


  

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