PN is for Paul Nash. (updated June 2006)

[email protected]

I have been using Tcl as a hobbyist since 1997. I set up in 2000 in response to requests to explain what needs to be done to use computers in schools. is now going into its 3rd incarnation. I have used Tcl exclusively in my consulting work since 2000 in two main applications, a general ledger Tcl/Tk application and a webbased Mall/e-shop application with webbased management of the e-shops. I am now (2004) starting to use Javascript and Flash.

I have been programming since 1970 in BASIC and MIX-like machine code. The first program we did in Computing 101 was the bootstrap. I started working in 1972 in COBOL, FORTRAN and algol, and even had cause to program one of those old heavy plugboards with the gold-plated pegs.

In 1973 I read Codd's papers and had a go at writing it in algol on the university's Borroughs machine - a hopeless task.

In 1974 I devoured Knuth Vol 1 (& 2 & 3) and solved one of the harder problems, earning myself an index citation.

In 1975 I implemented a topological geographical database (TOPCODE) using ICL's incredibly forward DB system. The TOPCODE methodology codes geographical features by their physical relationships and can be used intuitively by anyone 'on the street' without needing any techy equipment. It's a GIS that can be used in the 3rd world.

I then moved onto the usual career path of maintaining financial systems on IBM mainframes. In 1979 I helped startup Mana Systems which developed and sold a scripting language which laid over PL/I. The language (MANASYS) quickly developed enough to be used by itself for batch and real-time applications, generating either PL/1 or COBOL depending on the flavour of your shop. Personality conflicts forced me out of this project and I became a consultant. And in 1983 I bought a nice little hideaway and retired and just minded my small customer base.

Then the minicomputer appeared and I worked on a personal project, Omega, a language which is intelligent, written using lex, yacc and C. It implements Tip 131 . It is called Omega because it is the last programming language you will need to learn. It looks very much like Tcl but has string pairs {type value} as its basic data construct compared to Tcl's {string}. The more I use Tcl the more I find myself using the {type value} construct as in the Tk resource database and what are now called nvlists dict. Many hardware migrations and crashes later Omega exists only in hard copy.

In 1991 I got pulled out of retirement to consult for project proposals to develop a new language for Fujitsu which was all very hush-hush at the time, so noone knew what they were supposed to be doing. It turned out Fujitsu was looking for the language that was to become a browser scripting language for Sun. Javascript and Tcl became the front runners. Mana Systems was one of the companies engaged in this experiment and endeavoured to turn MANASYS into a window version but got bogged down in the proliferation of window management systems that existed at the time. In 1992 I was called in again as a consultant, to set up an independant team which developed a spec for a language called PEOPL (Persistant and External Object Programming Language). When this was submitted to SC22, Fujitsu felt horribly exposed, at a crucial stage in their negotiations with Sun as it turned out, and canned it. PEOPL vanished without trace. I retired again. But not before I learned about Tcl at the local Unix conference and recognised the same principles that I had mapped out in Omega.

In 1996 I started playing on the web and in 1997 was using the Tcl plugin in my webpages. The most interesting plugin Tcl script was for a Chu calculator (2000). Probably the most convoluted piece of programming I will ever do. The calculator is now (2006) on line at the new site. It is a dangerous piece of software that chews up machine time and burns out chips. But it proved that Tcl's expression matching capabilities allow it to outperform compiled languages such as Java.

In 2000 I set up an e-shop website for a friend which grew into an e-mall. It became a full-time job and in 2003 I was forced out of retirement again.

Retirement now is impossible as half my bedroom is a computer lab.

LV Paul, is your business software available online for purchase? I've recently seen some people asking about such a thing.

PN NO. Technology changes so fast. Even the webserver was written before SQLite and tclhttpd were available components and although I have rewritten the software to use them, the orginal architecture shows its age. For todays use I would have to rewrite them completely from scratch.