November 1, 2012
York University

Organized by: Department of Computer Science & Engineering and York University Computer Museum.
Sponsored by: Faculty of Science & Engineering, York University, Toronto and by Toronto APL Special Interest Group.

Location: York University, Keele campus, Lassonde Building, Lecture Hall B
Directions: follow Location & Travel Info link from the main menu.
Time: 10 am -- 4 pm.


Department of Computer Science and Engineering, York University, is organizing a special one day event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the APL programming language and the software engineering culture that the language has created. The event will take place on November 1, 2012, at York University. It will consist of lectures, demonstrations, exhibits, and a panel (see Event Program and Exhibits and Demos for details).

A bit of APL history

In 1962, a Canadian computer scientist Kenneth Iverson published his influential book A Programming Language starting a long and rich history of APL -- one of the most innovative and influential early programming languages. The book described the principles and applications of a symbolic language (a notation system) to be known as "Iverson notation".

In 1965, the work of Iverson and his team of collaborators at IBM resulted in the first implementation of APL. In 1968, IBM made the APL software publicly available. And the rest, as the idiom goes, is history. In the 1970s, APL conferences, meetings, publications and interest groups, as well as "I love APL" stickers and buttons, T-shirts and songs, transformed the initial curiosity about the principles of APL programming into an unprecedented cultural phenomenon. Every major computer manufacturer was offering its own APL environment.

In 1979, Iverson received the ACM Turing Award--the highest distinction in Computer science

For his pioneering effort in programming languages and mathematical notation resulting in what the computing field now knows as APL, for his contributions to the implementation of interactive systems, to educational uses of APL, and to programming language theory and practice.

On June 11, 1998, Iverson received honorary degree of Doctor of Science from York. In the citation read by Professor B. Drummond, the University Orator, it was stressed that:

It is not only because York University was one of the first institutions outside IBM to make use of APL that we are particularly proud to honour Kenneth Iverson today. A creative inventor, pedagogical pioneer and breaker of disciplinary boundaries, Dr. Iverson exemplifies our highest ambitions for our own faculty and students.

APL now

Since the release of the first APL software by IBM, there have been very many releases of APL products, too numerous to list. There were interpreters developed by mainframe manufacturers (e.g. Burroughs, CDC, Data General, or IBM), by timeshare services (e.g. I.P. Sharp SHARP APL) or Scientific Time Sharing Corporation (APL*PLUS)), by microcomputer companies (e.g. Micro Computer Machines (MCM/APL)), even computer hobbyists.

Other companies have been involved in developing APL software products and were evolving APL into the next generation of programming languages (e.g. IBM's APL2, Micro APL's APLX, Dyalog APL, Jsoftware's J, or Kx Systems' K).

APL meetings and conferences (e.g. APL2000 User Conference 2012) and dedicated APL publications (e.g. Vector -- the journal of the British APL Association) complete the current APL landscape.

APL at York

York University was not only one of the first institutions outside IBM to make use of APL but also one of the first universities to implement its own dialect of APL called York APL in the late 1960s (the York APL service was installed at the university in June of 1969). The language and its interpreter, developed primarily by Gord Ramer, a former assistant director of the York University Computer Center and one of the speakers at APL@50, were used by several North American and European universities and institutions. The language was characterized as compact, self-contained, and system independent. The expertise gained during the design of York APL was used for the development of another APL language--APL/MCM--for the world's first personal computer powered by a microprocessor.

APL was taught at York until late 1970s. The university was organizing and sponsoring APL conferences, such as The Use of APL in Educational Institutions that took place in 1972. And, finally, York University Computer Museum has been involved in building one of the most extensive APL historical collections.

APL@50 Location

Follow the Travel Info link.