The setting for the Phantasy Star RPG series, Algol consists of three major planets around a star not unlike our own. The planets, in original order from the sun, are as follows:

  • Motavia -- a barren, desert planet, home to the Motavians, a furry, squat, beaked species.
  • Palma -- the languid, temparate middle planet, home to the human-like Palmans.
  • Dezolis -- the desolate, ice-encrusted outer planet. Populated by the cranky, elongated, green-skined Dezolans.

    There is, however, a mysterious fourth satellite to the system -- Rykros, the invisible planet. In addition to its inherent inperceptability, the planet is also in such a far orbit from the star and from the other planets that it only crosses nearby once every thousand years or so.

    For more information, see Phantasy Star on the Master System, Phantasy Star 2 and 4 on the Sega Genesis, and the upcoming Phantasy Star Online for the Dreamcast.

  • ALGOrithmic Language: a programming language employing algebraic symbols, used internationally for scientific computations.

    Contemporarily, a second-magnitude star in the hip of Perseus. The name is Arabic for prankster on account of its being a rather closely-bound variable star - for about 2.5 days it will be seen at the order of second magnitude then for five hours dims to third magnitude as the orbit of the darker of its binary stars brings it between the brighter one and the Earth.

    This is the genealogy of the programming language Algol:

    Algol was first known as Algol 58 in year 1958.
    Then it begat Algol 60 in year 1960.
    Then it begat PL/I in year 1964.
    Then it begat Simula in year 1964.

    This genealogy is brought to you by the Programming Languages Genealogy Project. Please send comments to thbz.

    It was 1957, and the field of Programming Languages was at its infancy. Heck, the field of Computer Science was barely out of the womb. But the first FORTRAN compiler had recently been implemented, and proved to the world that high level languages were feasible.

    It was in this year, 1957, that two groups of programmers, one group in Europe and the other in the US, began an ambitious project to design the next-generation high-level language called ALGOL, short for Algorithmic Language.The programmers at that time had a "gentleman's agreement" that nothing would be added to the design of the language unless it was known to be implementable.

    The culmination of this work came out in 1960 in a document now known as the Algol report. For the first time, the syntax of a whole programming language was described in a formal language (the BNF, or Backus-Naur Form). The semantics of each programming construct was also defined, albeit in a less formal language: English. As early as the fall of 1960, Dijkstra already had an implementation of Algol 60.

    In the years ensuing, there was a great deal of debate about the ambiguities of the report. In 1962, after having the control of Algol transferred to a "Working Group" under the IFIP (International Federation for Information Processing), a revised report came out correcting the more obvious mistakes of Algol 60. And, in 1968, after much controversy, the Algol 68 report came out.

    C.A.R. Hoare said this about Algol 60: "Here is a language so far ahead of its time, that it was not only an improvement on its predecessors, but also on on nearly all its successors." Apparently referring to Algol 68, and PL/1.

    Algol was never a popular language outside academia. Much (perhaps underserved) criticism is heaped on Algol, that the language is too big, too complex, too difficult to implement. On a practical scale, Algol also never had a good I/O system specified. Whatever its deficiencies though, Algol gave us:

    But perhaps most importantly, Algol allowed us to think about programming language design as itself, an important and interesting area of study.

    P. Wegner, Programming Languages -- The First 25 Years, IEEE Transactions on Computers, Dec 1976
    John A. N. Lee, Programming Languages, Past, Present and Future, , 1997
    C. H. Lindsey, A History of Algol 68, History of Programming Languages II, 1993.

    Al"gol (#), n. [Ar. al-ghl destruction, calamity, fr. ghala to take suddenly, destroy.] Astron.

    A fixed star, in Medusa's head, in the constellation Perseus, remarkable for its periodic variation in brightness.


    © Webster 1913.

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