For the purpose of this question, let's define a dead programming language as one for which you cannot buy a newly manufactured piece of hardware and install an operating system which will let you run a compiler or interpreter for your language, without requiring an emulator. Thus, assembly language for any architecture which isn't currently being manufactured is dead.

This is a fairly strict definition of dead, since many dead languages under this definition are still easily runnable through emulators or hardware bought from eBay. Bonus votes if hardware or emulators are completely unobtainable.

+24  A: 

I still know Commodore BASIC and Commodore 64 assembly language.

Probably not unattainable, but getting very close.

That was 6510. A 6502 with an onboard IO chip.
There is still a fairly large Commodore BASIC community.
Jason Lepack
That may be, but you cannot buy a newly-manufactured piece of hardware that will let you run an interpreter for it, which was the question. :)
10 ?"ME TOO!":POKE 53280,1
Actually, there is a C64 Basic interpreter for modern systems out: It is a translation of the original ROM's assembly, so might count as emulation though.
Chris Smith
There's nowadays an iPhone C64 emulator which includes BASIC through a small trick -> ...and then there's of course demoscene still doing new things with C64 in general.
I love to POKE!
+3  A: 

PDP-11 Assembler.

Although I guess there is an emulator around.

Ken Ray
I've heard the TI MSP430's instruction set is almost the same as a PDP-11. But I've only written a handfull of lines of MSP430 assembler, and no PDP-11, so I can neither confirm nor deny.
I'm not voting up anyone whose response is some kind of assember. That just seems like cheating. However, you get honorable mention for this one, since that entire style of CISC assembler is now dead too.
Heh. I just remembered that you can actually buy PDP-11's on a PCI card now. (Why I'd forgotten this, I don't know. We just bought one here a couple of years ago). Here's the link
I saw a PDP11 *in use* at a major government run laboratory in 1995. We were forbidden to mention it outside the collaboration, and it was replaced the year after, but it was still chugging along. The operators would yell at anyone who walked too close (because it was shock sensitive), and it was a high honor to be allowed to sit at the teletype console.
+7  A: 

Love to respond, but I'd have to Google to see if the 6502 is still being manufactured.

A python-based emulator called Py65 is available from Mike Naberezny.
No need to Google, you can use Live Search or Yahoo or :)
Nemanja Trifunovic is the only way to go.
it is, see
Steven A. Lowe
+3  A: 

Z80 assembly is fairly dead.

Not in the embedded world!
Daniel Papasian
Right. I should have said, "... on my TRS-80 Model I".
I've got a Z80 based ethernet evaluation kit in my pile of electronics development tools. Never plugged it in... Actually, now that I think about it, I might have passed it on in a ... Nevertheless, they are current devices - pretty nice and speedy too.
Adam Davis
It's not dead. It's used for programming the TI series calculators all the time!
Cristián Romo
@Cristián Romo — Agreed. The first device I ever programmed in assembly (and, one memorable afternoon, in machine code) was a TI-86. AFAIK, they're still selling those.
Ben Blank
Z80 assembler is not dead. I know someone developing and selling devices based on Z80 for small scale industrial controls. All in Z80 assembler.
Peter Mortensen
I once won an extended precision arithmetic contest in Z80.
David Thornley
+9  A: 

6502 Assembler. Brings back many memories (not only good ones ;-) ).

I still remember the hex code for the NOP operand...

not dead, see - 6502 chips used for embedded applications these days
Steven A. Lowe
+1 I remember A9 which was LDA :)
Anders K.
234! 234! 234!!! decimal for POKING into memory from BASIC DATA statements...
@Supercat, yes, there where more. Some multibyte NOP instructions that could be used for dirty self modifying code. I must have a 6502 reference somewhere. ;-).
@Gamecat: It's interesting that when the CMOS version of the 6502 was designed, some new instructions were added, but none of the undocumented ones were retained. Some of them (like the ones I mentioned) would I think have made nice "documented" additions to the instruction set. I wonder in what order the original 6502 instructions were added to the set; there's plenty of space for many instructions to support more addressing modes, but certain instructions were decoded over-broadly. Had some decodes been a little finer, nearly all instructions could sport all 8 modes.
+8  A: 

I don't know if it meets your definition (And I don't care to take time to research) but back in the day I used to know APL. Haven't even seen a reference to it for at least 25 years.

The APL with funky symbols is more or less dead, I suppose, but there are modern implementations, like J, which use Ascii characters instead.
Shouldn't you have answered using only 3 characters - none of which appear on a standard keyboard?
APL is still in use. A friend of mine is an actuary and still uses it.
Graeme Perrow
You had to use an IBM selectric terminal with a special type-ball. I've been told that you shouldn't seek to minimize code because that would lead to APL :-)
Mike Dunlavey
We actually used a terminal with no screen, nice to see those typing errors six or seven lines later.
Graeme, someone still uses it? Granted it was good for high level statistical analyis but there are so many better tools now.
People offered a seminar on APL at my college last year.
Adriano Varoli Piazza
Youtube: Conway's Game of Life in APL --
Robert Harvey
Im using A+ (an APL implementation) in the financial industry. It's evolved into Q which is quite popular in Wall St.
+9  A: 

None of the programming languages you might think are dead are actually dead. ALGOL? Still in use by state governments that have Unisys mainframes. APL? Still out there. COBOL, FORTRAN, Mumps, etc are all still installable on newly purchased hardware with modern operating systems without emulators.

Perhaps NewtonScript is what you're asking about. I don't know.

Robert S.
NewtonScript is dead, yes.
But you can still buy Newtons, just not from Apple.
Robert S.
Newly manufactured ones?
Hm, probably refurbished.
Robert S.
+1  A: 

GIGL - GIGL Interactive Graphics Language (threaded-interpreted language for graphics programming used in 2D CAD application, project abandoned before release)

SOIL - Simple Object Interaction Language (internal app dev language, company out of business)

FlexAbility - OOP Extension to DataFlex 4GL (subsumed and obsoleted by DataFlex 3.0)

caveat: these are all languages that I wrote that are no longer available. Someone, somewhere may still have a copy of them, but I don't, and you can't buy one.

Steven A. Lowe
Are you telling me that you use awful puns for all of your project names? That's truly repulsive!
Andrew Rollings
@Andrew Rollings: you know me better than that! Of COURSE I use awful puns for project names. I use awful puns for EVERYTHING! I used to have some really small ones that drew crowds wherever they appeared - Homeland Security confiscated them as illegal Wee Puns of Mass Distraction.
Steven A. Lowe
+5  A: 

If I can just find a card reader I still have a punch card deck FORTRAN IV application to convert Roman numbers in Decimal and back.

Jim C
Nope, punch cards are alive and well. Article is a few years old, but the company is still around making new devices
+2  A: 

OLIE - a 3rd party Windows scripting language to automate mainframe applications and it will only run on Win3.11,95,98 not even the compatibility mode in XP would allow it to work.

I even wrote a syntax highlighting script for it in 2005/6 for use in the EditPlus text editor for Windows

+1  A: 

Autocoder, xs3

+6  A: 

Snobol anyone? How about if the language was never alive -- in that case Wren? No disrepect to Ken Slonneger. I actually enjoyed his course.

A shout out to SNOBOL! I never used it for a project, but I wrote a paper on it in a "Comparative Programming Languages" class.
Bill Karwin
And don't forget the SNOBOL obfuscator called ICEBOL!
Ken Paul
Oh man, I haven't heard SNOBOL referenced since the '80's! :-)
Brian Knoblauch
I still know SNOBOL. But I've moved onto Icon.
If you miss it, there's sort of a mini-SNOBOL package in the library distributed with the gnu Ada compiler. I think the lead maintainer for gnat was one of the chief SNOBOL guys back in the day.
+1 Snobol - those were the days - when a regex was hard and required an entire language and compiler!
I find that learning string scanning in SNOBOL has taught me to look at RegExes differently than most people. It's wierd: I get asked for help as if I'm a RegEx guru...
I grew up in a small town (cc 5K pop) that hosted an annual SNOBOL conference (70s and 80s). Sadly, I still never learned it.
Michael Paulukonis
UI shoutout! I TAed for Slonneger a couple of times.
Meredith L. Patterson
I always thought it was a neat language until I had to write an actual program in it. Man, those control structures sucked!
David Thornley
I learned Lisp, Snobol, and C in the same class at school. Talk about confusion.
+1  A: 

I'm actually reading a book on Z80A Assembly (Amstrad CPC) at the moment. More for nostalgia reasons than anything else.

To quote William Shatner: "Get a life!" ;-)
Steven A. Lowe

Z80 and 68000 assembly, and QL Basic of course ;)

I would also consider dBase and Clipper quite dead (as in 'technologically outdated')

well foxpro would be in that list also as it is a dbase clone. Foxpro has been discontinued (well you can still get it on MSDN) Although dbase and clones are still readily available.
+3  A: 
  • 6502
  • 68K
  • Apple II Integer BASIC
  • Applesoft BASIC
  • Manchester Mark I Assembly
  • Concurrent Euclid

I'd list 6800 and 6809 but they're being used for USB devices.

Having met someone who actually worked on the Manchester Mark I believe that there was never any assembler written for it. Programming was done by wire wrap - in his words: 'ones and zeros'.
heh - we did it for a college assignment - write a working factorial in the fewest instructions, the constants 1, 0, and -1 were free. I wrote a one-pass optimizing assembler for MMI.
68k is not dead—it is used in the TI-89 calculator among other things.
Adam K. Johnson
10 A$ = "-=[ AGGRO'S TOWNE ]=-"20 HTAB (42 - LEN(A$)) / 2 : ? A$Ah the good old days of Apple ][+ BBSing... :-)
Willie Wheeler
The coldfire micro controllers are 68k machines. Not dead at all.
+6  A: 

ACTION! Terrible name, cool little language and developer enivronment. The language was tailored to the 6502 in numerous ways. You could do things with it on the Atari 8-bits that you could only do in assembly otherwise. (Action! was only available on the Atari 8-bits, I should add.)

Like early Borland systems, Action! offered a built-in editor (which was the nicest editor you could find on the Atari, in my experience), an in-memory one-pass compiler, and a monitor to execute and debug your code. Compilation was speedy and the code it produced was tight and fast. The development system was distributed on a cartridge (ugh) and you had to either have the cartridge plugged-in to run your program or distribute your program with a run-time library (which was not free -- not a great way to do these things).

I learned Action! before I learned C. A great deal of C came easily to me because of Action!, including pointers, which usually trip newbies up. The language itself wasn't revolutionary -- Just Another Procedural Language -- and not a whole lot of abstractions to soak up, like modularization or object-oriented anything. But it was more powerful than BASIC or Pascal, gave you immediate access to the underlying hardware, and abstracted out the more tedious parts of assembly coding. Without a decent C compiler on the Atari, it was the only game in town.

Jim Nelson
+1  A: 

OBF (Omnia Banking Functions) from ICL.

Awful, AWFUL, REXX-based language. The whole of Lloyd's Bank Counter application was written in it (apart from a C++ DLL to interface with card-readers - which was my only respite).

I still wake up some nights screaming.

Andrew Rollings
+108  A: 
Orion Edwards
It's not dead. I used it recently to comment out lines in my C code that were causing errors (specialized case). I know some use it in hardware hacking to play with the serial and parallel ports (I've got an HD44780 test program written in QBASIC somewhere, still get requests for it...)
Adam Davis
Hey that's where I got my start into self taught programming, maybe 5th grade?
"gorillaz" "money" and were insane :)the first thing i've done in qbasic was, i translated them both into german :)
It's not dead. Just superceded by Visual Basic for DOS.
le dorfier
Survival Guide, that's awesome haha.
John T
According to the guidelines set out in the question it doesn't qualify, but "for all intents and purposes" it's tragically dead. I pine nostalgically for it :-)
Orion Edwards
All sorts of good memories are brought up right now!! :D
Mmm, good times as a teenager!
Paul Nathan
I have a copy of this on a floppy that I can run :|
Dalin Seivewright
Ah yes, such wonderful reminiscences of the the second grade are coming to mind... The days before you actually got .exe files. Wait, then, what about python? :P
Thank you Bill Gates.
Binoj Antony
You still have DOSBox to run it with :-)
I recall writing music in QBasic when I had mono in high school.
Drew Stephens
i still have a Zenith Data Systems machine with this.
Steve Obbayi
Ahhhh, used to make text adventure games with my friend with QBasic! So many memories...
Yeah! Nibbles and Gorillas was so fun to play.
Not sure this counts as dead. QBasic (along with the files for Nibbles and Gorilla) was still included in Windows 2000.
@le dorfier: That's why Visual Basic is necrophilia
At least the Quick Basic follow-on is still alive:
Bob Jarvis
This was my first programming language! I have an even older version, GW-Basic, on a 5 1/4 floppy.
George Edison
That's not dead...our main product is written in QBasic. (Yes, we try to get it to a more modern platform...but 20+ years of development can't be redone in some years.)
I miss this one.
Yan Cheng CHEOK
+19  A: 

Latin# and Sanskript. They're ancient programing languages written by the Romans and the Indians (respectively).

Sorry, I run Latin#.Net ;-)
Brian Knoblauch
Except I just saw on the BBC news last night that some school in the UK is teaching Sanskrit. The justification for teaching seemed to be that it underpins a lot of both Eastern and Western languages.
Peter M
I run Latin4. None of it makes sense any more...
vi be with you, brother?
Adriano Varoli Piazza
@Peter please note the 'p' in Sanskri[p]t
hasen j
@Adriano: I think that's "May the vi be with you, bro".
Bob Jarvis
+1  A: 

It depends on you definition of "know". I studied PDP-8 assembler but never wrote substantial code in it. I'd probably be productive in less than a day. Similarly for about 5 other assembly languages.

8080 assembler mnemonics translate trivially into legal 80x86 code, so that may not count.

Heathkit BASIC is probably too close to currently available dialects to count. Similarly for WATFIV Fortran.

Do custom processors count? I was the only person in the world who knew that language...

My bro-in-law just finished building a PDP-8 replica. What can I say - he's an uber-phone-geek that works at what used to be Bell Labs - Chicago. So your PDP-8 assembler skills may some day be back in demand. :-)
Bob Jarvis
+3  A: 

Benton Harbor Basic, for the Heathkit H-8 (and H89) computer.

It was named after Benton Harbor, Michigan, home of the Heath company, manufacturer of Heathkit products.

alt text

That's right! I just called it Heathkit BASIC in my answer, the official name slipped my mind.Do you still remember 8080 instructions in octal?
First language I programmed in. At one time I had the complete printout of the Pam-8 panel monitor firmware in 8086 assembly language.
Robert Harvey
The first versions actually had a primitive form of statement completion (aka Intellisense). You typed PR, it typed INT. The computer came with a horse racing game. The statement completion worked there too, on player's names and horses as they cast wagers.
Robert Harvey
+1 for cool picture (not much help as this is community wiki, but take it FWIW).
Bob Jarvis

I started out writing in Autocoder, Fargo and SPS for the 2nd generation IBM 1400-series mainframes. I think these qualify as dead languages, although we had a 1401 emulator card deck for early IBM 360s.

Ken Paul
+2  A: 

GEM ('Greatly Enhanced MUMPS') a MUMPS derivative for the PDP-11 written by one of the people who worked on the original MUMPS project. I never actually did any programming on it but I do know someone who did.

+10  A: 


Not dead according to the definition, but upvoted for humor value.
+7  A: 

Sinclair BASIC

Rob Kam
+1 and 15 characters
Ah, my first programming language!!
+46  A: 

Turbo Pascal.

There are still quite a few native compilers for this language. We studied it at high school 3 years ago.
Maybe it's not used a lot but by Mehrdad's definition it certainly isn't dead.
John T
Not one bit dead. It's just the name got changed to Delphi when they added a RAD front end. It's quite possible for Turbo Pascal code to run unchanged on Delphi.
Loren Pechtel
Or FreePascal...
Coolest compiler I ever used.
Virtual Pascal is roughly TP+D2 dialectwise. TMT and Topspeed have/had a TP modes, even GNU Pascal has some TP compatibility (though they still don't have a compatible shortstring type and require modifications). TP for Mac is also still used.
Marco van de Voort
Delphi is dead if you are looking for a job, i saw 3 Delphi jobs adds in my whole life.
Sad to say, but in Hungary Pascal is teached as first and only programming language in secondary school.
TP2 and TP3 were among the first IDE's I ever saw and I loved 'em. Couldn't *wait* for TP4 to come along. So I waited. And waited. And waited. And eventually gave up and learned C. So by the time TP4 finally *did* see the light of day I bought it, looked at it, and went back to C because TP was no longer "cool". Borland could have owned the market if they hadn't taken so blasted long to bring out version 4. <sigh> Wrote some cool stuff to do model aircraft design in TP3, though...
Bob Jarvis

SPL for the HP/3000 computer.

Kwang Mark Eleven
I loved that language! Once wrote a program to solve linear programming problems in SPL - my instructor just shook his head, but the alternative was to use Fortran, Basic, or (Cthulhu help us!) APL. Anyways, it was a "Systems" programming language so it was cool. :-)
Bob Jarvis
+2  A: 

DIBOL and DCL from my Vax days. DCL was my gateway drug to script programming.

The DIBOL compiler used to have a command line switch that caused it to print at the end of the compiler output some ascii art of a sheep and a saying that was something like "DIBOL - the black sheep of the Digital language family" if memory servers. I wish I had a print-out of that.

Bryan Oakley
+1 - my first "real" programming job was doing Y2K conversion for an old DIBOL accounting system running on VAX/Alpha VMS... Somehow I bet those companies are still running that system.
Eric Petroelje

Rexx, 386 protected mode assembler, Turbo Pascal, RMX

+1  A: 


It was kind of a combination applications/systems programming language for Honeywell's CP-6 operating system. I last used it in the mid-1980's.

+4  A: 

Extended Basic of TI99/4A


Dbase dead? Not hardly!
Bob Jarvis

CP/M Baby!!

+8  A: 
  • Simons' BASIC
  • ABC 80 BASIC
  • AMOS
  • Amiga E
  • Super Agnus (Copper/Blitter) but I'm not sure it's even Turing complete...
Jonas Elfström
Simons Basic?? Whow! That brings back memories!
+4  A: 

A flavor of basic that ran on MSX machines! It was my first language ever, I was like 8 years old, I don't even remember anything from it, except for gosub! (lol) and that line numbers have semantic value. Here's an emulator for MSX (blue MSX).

hasen j
+1  A: 

NOMAD sort of a 2.5 GL database language for IBM mainframes. Had a dialect of some sort of SQLish Hierachical/Relational databae query language, a report designer, and a block mode form builder. It was my first job out of Uni in 1989 and could have been my last because the language was dead already. Luckily the company migrated to Oracle before they laid their whole two person programming team off. Although I wouldn't say Oracle Forms and Reports are looking too healthy nowadays either.

Also Z80, 6802, and PDP11 assembler.

I don't knoow the status of Modula II, Scheme, or Prolog but they sure haven't helped me lately.

+5  A: 

REXX, Turbo Pascal

I don't think REXX is dead, I believe several programmers still use it. According to Wikipedia, several open source interpreters exist.
There were REXX programs in use on Windows machines at my last job, 18 months ago. No emulator was needed.
Matt Campbell
REXX is used on a daily basis on mainframes - so it is far from dead ;)
REXX code can also be found in the JVM, though I forget what it was used to implement (BigDecimal maybe?)
+1 for REXX... on my first job, with an IBM 4381
Padu Merloti
+1  A: 

Please define "emulator".

I dare you to give a definition that will not make any "modern" language's virtual machine sound like an emulator. I don't know of any hardware that can run CLI natively and that would make all .NET languages not only "dead" but "unborn".

Seems pretty straightforward. An emulator allows you to run machine code designed for one processor on another, incompatible processor. A virtual machine is just like that, except the code you're running is for an idealized processor that was never built.
Mark Bessey
For a definition of a word, I'd look in a dictionary: "to imitate a particular computer system by using a software system". That is, to duplicate the behaviour of a piece of hardware in software. If anything, modern computer languages are the exact opposite - they start off as purely software implementations that metamorphose over time into faster hardware implementations.
Jason Williams
+1  A: 

I learned programming on my TI-57 then TI-59... Also coded a bit of HP-48C language on a calculator of a friend.

I coded in Basic in lot of 8bit computers, each having its own dialect: Commodore CBM 4016, Apple //e, Amstrad CPC 6128, Atari ST 520, to mention only computers I owned, I also coded on other machines in shops, school, etc.

Used assembly on 6800 and 6502 and a number of micro-controllers. Plus a bit of Z80 and 8080.

I wouldn't touch it with a pole (it was already almost dead at the time, 15 years ago), but I was close to learn LTR3 on a French military project. Hey, there is even an English reference to it:

Also coded a bit of Bull's Mini6 assembly language at the Uni.

still run into a lot of microcontrollers with 6502. and we can still get parts if one of our tools go down.

I still have a box of blank punchcards from my early programming days.

Until we moved in 2006, I had all the punchcards from my FORTRAN IV programming assignments (done back in 1979).

I also programmed assembler for a device known as the SCMP (scamp). Gave that away when we moved as well. I think it was one of the last ones around.

Modified assembler once for an IBM 3033.

I'd say 68HC11 assembler, but that microcontroller is actually still very popular as a teaching tool and as an embedded device. I still have one plus all the "bells and whistles" to connect it to a PC and program it (in assembler or C).



+1  A: 

NDL - Network Development Language, on Burroughs B1750

TAL - Tandem Application Language, on Tandem NonStop machines

ALGOL 60 - ALGOrithmic Language, on Burroughs 5500

I also programmed in a very early version of BASIC, where variables were one character unless they were strings, in which case they had a suffixed dollar sign, but there is probably some abomination out there somewhere that can still execute that stuff.

John Grieggs
ALGOL 60! Way to go!
Kwang Mark Eleven
+1  A: 

Here's my few:

Commodore PET Assembler

Commodore 64 Basic

Watcom Basic

Watcom Pascal

JB King

I heartily wish Fortran were dead.

I worked with a big Roman guy once who informed me in a booming Italian accent:

Mike, Fortran is like Rock and Roll. IT WILL NEVER DIE.

Mike Dunlavey
Languages come and languages go, but Fortran endures.Years ago I read an interesting line: "I don't know what programming language I'll be using in 20 years, but I know it will be called Fortran".
Bob Jarvis
+21  A: 

I think the Apollo guidance computers (programmed in assembler) are pretty much dead.

I had a chunk of read-only-memory containing some programming for that, that I finally threw away a few years ago. It was what they called "braid" and it consisted of a long thin matrix of wires and magnetic cores woven together. If a wire went inside or outside a core encoded a binary bit. It was all folded up into a little box.

Those machines, by the way, were made entirely out of NOR gates, for reliability.

Mike Dunlavey
You should probably have tried to sell it.
"That belongs in a museum!" -- Indiana Jones
Steven A. Lowe
Not sure if these are dead yet. At least one person might be using a replica of one ( and there is an emulator ( ) available
Andy Webb
What great links! Thank you!
Mike Dunlavey
+1 some
Click Upvote
I just visited the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. They have some examples of this braid memory. Very interesting to see the early examples, as well as the smaller more "modern" versions. They also have some computer systems from the Apollo, not to mention a working Babbage Difference Engine. Absolutely amazing -- worth a trip if you're in the Bay Area.
Luke Francl
@Luke. I'd like to see that, but I'm on the wrong coast.
Mike Dunlavey

Lotus 1-2-3 @macro(),@language() - death by @ signs. Although I think I've seen an emulator for 1-2-3.

You used to be able to run 1-2-3 macros unmodifoed in Excel. I winder if that's still the case?
Mark Bessey
+4  A: 
Peter K.
That computer kinda looks like my brand new (christmas present for myself) htpc computer =)
Viktor Sehr
+1  A: 

Special mention for Compiler that suffered the longest long slow death should go to Microsoft C Version 1.52a.

Barcode scanners -

Any number of BASICs. Start with MarsBasic.

Intermec's IRL.

For extra credit...

ObjectVision (From Borland, I believe).

cEnglish - anyone remember that? Actually a positive experience, esp. compared to the above.

le dorfier
+18  A: 


I was in Middle School, what can I say?

Hey, HyperTalk wasn't that bad...
Myst was written entirely in HyperCard, as were a number of beta versions of puzzles from The Fool's Errand...
Matt Poush
I loved HyperCard and wish Apple had kept up with it. But ObjectiveC eventually made it's way in as the defacto language to use.
For those that miss HyperCard, check out TileStack:
Never heard of TileStack. Thanks for the link!
Hypertalk was pretty awesome!
Bob King
HyperCard lives on in Python as PythonCard:
Peter Mortensen
man that brings back the memories

65C02 assembly language for 128 KB memory.

+1  A: 

VOS from Parity Software. It was a C type language mainly to access Dialogic voice boards to build Telephony applications. Purchased by Dialogic, then Diaglogic purchased by Intel.

Darian Miller
+14  A: 

Clipper. Summer 1987 was a grand replacement for dBase III+. Clipper 5.01 was even better. A variant still exists in Xbase++

Darian Miller
Clipper... <shivers> I still have nightmares about it.
Clipper was awesome in its day. Very fast, easy to program, and IIRC you could create standalone executables.
Robert Harvey
Definitely could make standalone executables with Clipper. That was one of the vast improvements over dBase III+ Clipper 5 was definitely a great language in it's day.
Darian Miller
Hey, Clipper is the only language my boss has ever used, so everybody has to know what that is! ;-)

How about GPSS? Never used it professionally but I was pretty good with in a class I took.

Yes! GPSS rocked. I can still recall a grocery simulation I wrote for a class: should I open another checkout line?

I know a deadly programming language.

Mark Stock

FORTRAN IV and probably even IBM FORTRAN G and H are dead, not because FORTRAN is dead (still alive and kicking) but because FORTRAN has moved on and those compilers are no longer available.

I think the questioner is on to an interesting idea, but it isn't quite the right question. First, the definition of dead is too strict. Second it's not enough that a language should be dead; it should be dead and interesting, or dead for an interesting reason.

Rexx was a nice language but I hear you can download free versions today that run on any unix box. And I think it's still central in the IBM mainframe world.

Norman Ramsey
+7  A: 

I learnt to program in school using BBC BASIC on the beloved BBC Micro.

10 Print "Benjol" /n 20 GOTO 10
...And there still isn't a variant of BASIC that can top BBC Basic V. (How many BASICs do you know with a built in macro assembler? Ah, the good old days! :-)
Jason Williams
+1  A: 

Commodore Basic/ASM

ben mcgraw
+1  A: 

... let's define a dead programming language as one for which you cannot buy a newly manufactured piece of hardware and install an operating system which will let you run a compiler or interpreter for your language, without requiring an emulator.

By that definition, I guess lisp counts, unless you think a lisp machine is easily obtainable. Depending of course on whether you deem existing interpreters as being emulators or not.

Uh .. and while we're at it; I guess Java would count as well, since it requires a Virtual Machine to execute.

Lispy-ness is alive and well for Active directory queries. =)
The Movitz project - - is trying to counter that: an "on-the-metal" Lisp dev-environment.
Michael Paulukonis
I recently bought a laptop running Ubuntu, and installed Steel Bank Common Lisp. Do you mean Lisp Machine Lisp in particular?
David Thornley
@david: Yeah, and it was tongue-in-cheek. Lisp is very much alive.
+40  A: 

Java. Oh wait, that's just dead to me.
(That was a JOKE people).

In all seriousness:
Modula-3 (don't remember the compiler vendor's name anymore, but compiled for DOS) least I HOPE that one is dead

Modula 3 isn't much more dead than Java. There are Linux ports avilable. Check out
Powerbuilder is not dead - sorry to tell you - but a friend of mine has to work with it
actually Powerbuilder v12 or PowerBuilder.NET asit will be called has both WPF and WCF, release date sometime next year.
Anders K.
I was looking for the first person to say "Java" :)
Luke Francl
Upvoted for Java
Upvoted for Modula
+1 for PB, but unfortunately places still use it. BTW, PB12 will have WPF / WCF, but you will have to rewrite your application to take advantage of them. They will not be a drop-in replacement.
Justin Ethier
+2  A: 

Integer Basic and Applesoft basic on Apple 2 systems


Various assembly languages (pdp-11, z80, 6502/AppleII)

Various Pascals

Modula II - wrote a optics focus control module for a micro-fiche reader/digitizer that never got out of the lab

Various Cobol's and old Fortran variants

+1  A: 

TECO macro language. Even got a program written in TECO published in "The VAX/RSTS Professional Magazine" in 1983. The program was basically grep (which I hadn't heard of yet).

The command and macro language are the same. Ever command is a single character. They had a visual editor entirely written in the command language. It's source looked like line noise, but I learned a lot about the language by deciphering it.

+2  A: 

Personally, I don't think basic or assember dialects should count. Tons of people are still using some variety of both. The OQ says it counts though.

The only proper programming laguage I've ever used that I think is totally dead is Draco. The only information that is even available about it online is this sentence in a few online dictionaries:

A blend of Pascal, C and ALGOL 68 developed by Chris Gray in 1987. It has been implemented for CP/M-80 and Amiga.

It was a nice little systems programming laguage that was sort of like Pascal made C-like. It used the convention where control structures started with the Pascal-like name and ended with it reversed, sort of like the Bourne Shell.

The only major application I know of that used it was the Amiga port of Empire (not the commerical game: Empire: Wargame of the Century. That was more like a proto Civilization that a true Empire port.) It was the only usable true compiler you could get for the Amiga for free. It was available for download, or on the Fred Fish disks.

I actually corresponded with Chris for a while. He lived up near Edmunton Alberta, IIRC. Really nice guy.

+3  A: 

JOVIAL - Jules Own Version of the International Algorithmic Language.

+2  A: 

APL - Can't buy a keyboard anymore....

To give a glimpse:
Iverson's "Notation As a Tool for Thought":

Falkoff, Iverson & SUssenguth's "A Formal Description of System/360"

APL - the world's only write-only programming language. Ten minutes after writing a program not even the *programmer* can tell you what it does or how. I had to learn it in self-defense in college because I worked in the college computing lab and people would as questions I couldn't even begin to answer.
Bob Jarvis

SDL-88 (Specification and Description Language)

It was used in a CASE tool called VERILOG Object GEODE

Charles Faiga
+1  A: 

Cobol and Comal. Did anyone ever use Comal in production or was it purely a learning language?

COBOL is not dead. COMAL is surely dead. I'm surprised anyone even mentioned it as dead--that's how dead it is.It wanted to be the sequel to BASIC on 8-bit computers. But of course NOTHING was the sequel to BASIC on 8-bit computers.
I was introduced to Comal some time around 1996 in middle school on DOS PCs. It was used in an introductory course for programming.

Apple's - Sweet16

6502, 6809, 68000,

UCSD Pascal, Applesoft Basic, Dec Basic Plus, Forth

Tony Lambert
Wow I had forgotten about Sweet16. That was cool.
6502 is still used in microcontrollers. as well as the 68k series. will have to check into 6809

Imlac PDS-1, PDS-4 assembly language.

+2  A: 

AMPLE ... a weird and wonderful Forth-like language for programming music that came with the Music 5000, an FM synth box that attached to the BBC Micro. (

There's absolutely NOTHING about this on the web. Can't understand why no-one's resurected or emulated it. It filled an interesting niche ... more accessible and dynamically integrated with the studio than C-sound or writing your music in Lisp or Processing. But not just another "wire-together" graphical dataflow language like Max or Pd.

A real, text-based programming language in which you could write your own musical subroutines as well as control synths and sequence musical events.

There is a Wikipedia entry for AMPLE created in 2003: However there is not much information.
Peter Mortensen

Like lots of Flash guys I have a big wasted blob of brain marked... LINGO.

+15  A: 

Not sure how dead or if it's a programming language ... but Logo.

Scott Vercuski
I made a maze using LOGO in 9th grade.
LOGO was actually pretty fun.
How is it dead? There are still tons of LOB applications that require turning a turtle into a dump truck and having it move around the screen.
Jacob Adams
and it survives as NetLogo, too
+3  A: 

COMAL 80, which was a nice improvement over the builtin Commodore BASIC - I sold the cartridge along with the C= 64, and ARexx, which had the force of being the ubiquitous glue between programmes on the Amiga - I sold the Amiga 4000.

+1  A: 

Atari BASIC, Turbo Basic XL, some 6502 machine code 68000 Assembler, GFA Basic (awesome editor)

(although "knowing" them is a bit exaggerated after all those years)


Pascal - my "technology requirement" in high school was Pascal, Cobol, or (strangely) Cooking. It was a kind of sweet torture - staring at a monochrome screen in a dimly lit room stepping through code with the wafting smell of cookies and the sound of laughter coming from the other room. Then again, I'm sure none of the cooking kids are chefs now, whereas...


If you want one of the more unusual languages, try the assembly langauge used by the microprocessor was used in the HP 41C calculator! This was a state of the art programmable calculator released in 1979. It had it's own reversh polish (RPN) programming language. However, under the hood was a microprocessor that could be accessed with special hardware attached.

Hackers eventually discovered how to dump the internal ROMs of the calculator and decode its instruction set. It used 56 bit registers and most of the instructions were 10 bites in length. And get this, the return stack only had 4 levels!

Eventually HP released thr source code to the calculator (called the NOMAS listings - NOt MAnufacturer Supported) and this enabled a flood of software to be written.

Those were the days!

Mike Thompson
I bought one of the very first HP-41C's. Took it all over the world while in the navy, programmed it to assist in ship maneuvering, radar contact tracking, etc. Still have it, still use it. Got a few more for free when a previous workplace was going to throw them out. Dang things were built like a tank.
Bob Jarvis
+13  A: 
Rob Howard
+3  A: 

Apple Basic... good times on the Apple II GS and learning my first programming language. It was also a good way to learn that drawing to the screen problematically can be difficult but yet rewarding.

Taught myself to program on my Apple IIc... was great just having a list of keywords and no syntax structures to work with.
Matthew Whited
+3  A: 

Is Modula-2 still around? I have also used SQLWindows, if anyone else has ever used that!

Ian Devlin
That's still my question. Maybe it has "survived" somewhat in Modula-3 and Oberon?

Assembler for the Motorola 6800.

BASIC... but really, who doesn't know BASIC.

+1  A: 

BASIC and your old Fortran.


Off the top of my head, how about:

  • Simula
  • Burroughs D-machine (for nano-programming of chip instructions for microprocessors)
  • PDP11 Assembler (JSR PC,GETSTUFFT)
  • MIDITRAN (subset of FORTRAN)
  • APL

All of these were taught as a part of the Computer Science course at UNSW in the late '70's. This was when the famous Lions book, and course, were in full swing! Interesting times and I've still got my original copies of both the listing book and the commentary book.



Rob Wells
Simula is available through GNU, as "cim".
John Saunders
+3  A: 

I learned a bizarre version of assembly that was used on the CDC Cyber, which had 60 bit words. That was...different. This text describing the memory archetecture is taken from Wikipedia:

The central processor (CPU) and central memory (CM) operated in units of 60-bit words. In CDC lingo, the term "byte" referred to 12-bit entities (which coincided with the word size used by the peripheral processors). Characters were six bits, operation codes were six bits, and central memory addresses were 18 bits. Central processor instructions were either 15 bits or 30 bits. The 18-bit addressing inherent to the Cyber 170 series imposed a limit of 262,144 (256K) words of main memory, which was semiconductor memory in this series. The central processor had no I/O instructions, relying upon the peripheral processor (PP) units to do I/O.


I definitely think this qualifies under the definition stated in the question...if you can buy a CDC Cyber somewhere, I can't imagine who would be selling it. (Since it was the size of several rooms with considerably less power than a PC.)

The computers in the computer room in the movie Die Hard look like old Cybers. The firefight in that room alone was worth the price of the CD to some of us.
David Thornley
They came in 2 pieces, and each half would take up most of the back of a semi. They were also water cooled. My favorite instruction was one I could never figure out a reason to use - it added up all the set bits in one word. I programmed them in university.

I used a gwbasic like language to teach my self to program about 8 years ago on a braille lite 18. This is an ancient palm pilot type device design for use by blind people that is no longer manufactured and has no emulators for it.


Atari ST Basic. Great computer, horrible Basic.

+2  A: 
  • AppleBasic
  • 6202 Assembly
  • C64 BASIC
  • Amiga BASIC
  • AREXX (like apple script but the Amiga answer to it)
  • I learned Forth and Logo in high school.

Not that I really "know" any of these anymore. The knowledge has long since been committed to cobweb memory.

Adam Hawes

I used to code PL/1 on an IBM 3081 mainframe. Before that I knew BASIC (8 bit micros) and FORTRAN77, and thought PL/1 was a huge step forward. Alternatives on offer were Pascal, Algol and BCPL. I really liked PL/1s in-your-face "BEGIN;" & "END;"s (yup, instead of "{" & "}"); that and the nifty fixed-point integer types and built-in support for parallelism.

+1  A: 

I wrote some pretty fancy stuff in TECO once upon a time.

Liudvikas Bukys
+1  A: 

I guess any language for the MZ1Z016 series from Sharp is dead. I developed on that cool machine for several years from 1990 on.

+1  A: 

Back in Russia, my first languages were Algol 60 (books only - no real machine time) and Electronika B3-34 programmable calculator. Then I dabbled in PL-1, Snobol, Prolog, Ada - still no computer time. First real code that I managed to run somewhere was C (not dead, no, no!) and Algol 68 (quite dead, imho). There was Modula-2 and Turbo Pascal 5.5 in the college. So here I am the walking graveyard of languages.

Edit: Oh damn - forgot the DB languages! Paradox, dBase, FoxPro (is it dead yet?), Clarion(!). All of these used professionally, too.

Clarion is not dead just yet.
Stu Andrews
And Algol68 is refusing to lie down and die:

My introduction to assembler was on the Z80 for the TRS-80 Model II. It was an incredibly enjoyable experience, but while there seem to be emulators for the Model I and III/IV, nobody has taken up the chore of implementing one for the II and it's lovely 8" disks, despite there being a lot of technical information available. (Yes, I've considered giving it a shot, but it's way down on a long list of stuff I need to work on head of it. :P)

+1  A: 

I thought my mad NATURAL skills were now useless but Google proves me wrong.


I had to learn Ada95 in my first semester of post-secondary education. The reason for that language was because it was strongly-typed. There are other strongly-typed languages, but I think the BASIC-like syntax was also a deciding factor. I still haven't seen a language since that came with a built-in data type for wraparound arrays.

+1  A: 

Logo for the BBC Micro.


Does wiring a collator board count as a programming language? These were called plugboard programs. I used to wire the boards on an IBM 88 Collator many years ago....

Mike K.

PPE was actually quite fun - quite a powerful scripting language for PCBoard BBS systems.



  • Turbo Pascal
  • AMOS
  • Amiga E
I used Amiga E to write a tool when I was working on a Sega CD game. I loved it.

QBASIC would be the most prominent.

I'm intimately familiar with COG, an event-based, C-like scripting language used in LucasArts' Jedi Knight. Although a mess of a language (you could use keywords as symbols), it compiled into bytecode and ran in a VM. It wasn't interpreted like most games' scripting languages were. As a result, it was ridiculously fast by comparison.

Matt Olenik

Completely dead languages:

NCR's 315 NEAT

Alpha Micro Basic

Data General MVS Assembler

BOS Micro-COBOL (except for a possible use in France under a different name)


Cadol 3

A Language thought to be dead but actually alive and well.

dBASE -> (now fully OOD and OOP).


I got the feeling I will never ever be called upon to write any more Bliss.

Scott Evernden
You may not be called upon to write more of it, but aren't there people writing BLISS code even now?
John Saunders

OPL - it was a programming language for the Psion Series 3 organiser. I think the Psion 5 used it too, but that is also no longer being manufactured.

Edit: Redacted! It looks like OPL is alive in the form of an open source project, however Symbian aren't providing much support for it, so it'll probably die at some point.

+1  A: 

I did my first coding in GWBASIC 3, which was born the same year as me if the copyright notice is to be believed.

+19  A: 

Old languages don't die. they just become much more expensive to maintain.

Brian Postow

Visual FoxPro

Mike C.

The one I miss the most is Digital Research's CB-80 (CBASIC). I wrote a lot of stuff in that language during the early 1980s on an Altos 8000-10 under the MP/M II operating system. That was back when having a 10 megabyte hard disk and 32K RAM was pretty good.


8085 assembly language :) though i must say i loved it somehow ;)

Rashmi Pandit

Basic for the Atari 2600 VCS.


DBase III Plus

Ankur Gupta

Algol-68 on a machine with 16K RAM.

ZZ Coder
+1  A: 

By definition, if someone knows a language, it's not dead. :-)

I'm not sure, if people only know the language but don't use it anymore...I consider the language dead.

I was surprised to find that APL and PL/I are available today. There are a few others that could be put to rest without adversely affecting civilization as we know it, such as Cobol and RPG.

For dead languages I'll have to settle for a limited knowledge of Algol 68 and a few assembly languages, such as Z-80 and 6502. There are various implementations of Basic that are history, but I wouldn't consider the Basic language dead. Fortran 66 is essentially gone, but I imagine a few compilers today have ANSI 66 compatibility modes.

If you put Cobol to rest, you won't be able to withdraw money from a bank account, and you won't be able to buy food at a supermarket if the supermarket uses bank accounts.
Windows programmer
Z80 and 6502 programming is still used today. Both have developed into CPUs used in many embedded systems.

Modula-2 - I used this for my PhD research, and managed to do some rather evil things to implement dynamically loaded modules.

CLU - the original MIT version: this was an object-based language with a GC.

Cambridge CLU - had language-level support for RPCs.

Mesa - the programming language of the Xerox D-machines when they weren't running Smalltalk or Lisp. (Who remembers the joys of "world swap" debugging?)

BCPL - a strongly typed language with only one type ... according to its designer.

Algol-S - the grand-daddy of orthogonal persistent languages

Napier-88 - another orthogonal persistent language

Refine - an interesting language that allowed to embed other languages. More a platform than just a language. IIRC, it cost $US25,000 per seat in ~1990. (No surprise that it never took off!)

Stephen C
  • LISP (Lots of Irritating Single Parenthesis)
  • MIPS Assembly
Taylor Leese
MIPS is still alive in the embedded world. Lots of network routers still use it.
Nils Pipenbrinck
LISP is very definitely still alive - check 'Tags'. (OK, it's not perhaps as "alive" as, say, Java, but there's still activity for it :-).
Bob Jarvis
+1  A: 

LambdaMOO, a language to build MOO. Basically a prototype-based OO language built on top of a OO database. very cool.

Stefano Borini

I still know SH4 assembler which was used on the DreamCast, which incidently is 10 years old/dead - cries. Best console EVER :(


Computer Associates' OpenROAD (if it ain't dead, it sure should be)

+6  A: 
Pascal Thivent
Ahhh BASIC1.0... I miss my 464.

Cypress Enable Basic

Used it as a scripting language in a document management application

+2  A: 

I know Oberon. Never saw it run in anything than a simulator. The course at college was since replaced by Java :)

Miha Hribar
Still not dead: I have a job writing Oberon! There are also a couple of open source Oberon implementations around too.
+1  A: 

PLUS -- Programming Language for Univac Systems, a product of Sperry Univac for their 1100 Series Mainframes.


Struct$ -- a macro assembler language for Univac 1100 Series, written as ASM Procs by Dr. Patrick Haggerty.

C/PM commands, like PIP

+1  A: 

Lockheed SUE ASM - A PDP-11 knockoff, only used in DatagraphiX Auto-COM equipment to my knowledge.

+1  A: 

A little late for answers, but just yesterday I discovered my personal version of MineSweeper on my TI-85 graphing calculator. I'm pretty sure that language is dead by now. :)


When will C# become a dead language?

ahahah nice one
Nick Bedford
+2  A: 

Amiga Copper lists

The first (mainstream) GPU programming language.

Philippe Leybaert

PL/1. I remember late nights carrying a deck of punch card to the hopper.

Akamai Okole
  1. OjectPAL (Paradox for Applications, which seemed to have extremely little to do with object-orientation)

  2. Informix 4GL (early-90s)

+1  A: 



BBC Basic, GWBasic and whichever strangely cooked-up dialect of Pascal the old Pyramid RISC machines used to run.



I did a checkup/list recently, and probably some of the OTHER 35 languages are dead...

Mark Schultheiss

Do zombie languages count? If so, then I know VBScript and pre-.Net VB.

Jason Baker


But it's not really dead it's the unholy Undead language.

+1  A: 

PLCS - a version of PL/1 which ran on the ucsd p-system. Used it in 1981 at Rutgers for the comp Sci 101 course

Fenugreek Femtosecond

I was going to say HP's IMAGE database language but it seems it's still around now as ALLBASE/SQL.


Seagate HOLOS

Was a 4GL language used for OLAP systems. Is still in use at some companies I did consulting for ten years ago but it is no longer sold...

It was a very good abstraction over typical OLAP problems, like stacking and racking datacubes, scarce data, consolidation along hierarchical dimensions and so on...

A few old colleagues and I once got together and agreed that it would be worth, relaunching the product. The problem is: HOLOS itself is written in APCL, "Anthony Proctor C Language" that is... I met Anthony once and asked him to implement a few new language features. He was already a very senior developer back then, so I am not sure, if he would be interested to teach us up...


PRO-IV programming in early 90's


Old programming languages never die, they just get swapped out.

SPL - HP's Systems Programming Language.

Unnamed machine language for the EDP-18 computer. Programmed by using the front panel of the computer to punch in programs, and later by using paper tape to read programs in via a teletype.

PL/C - a PL/I variant that tried to correct errors as it encountered them. Kind of interesting in that no matter how badly you screwed up your program would run, although it would probably not produce the output you intended. I would have expected PL/I to be dead as well, but according to IBM's site it's still supported.

The brain-dead "fourth generation" HR package I worked on at BP 20 years ago. I never knew until then how much a "fourth generation tool" would look like assembler. Don't remember the name - I think the brain cells concerned with that tool commited ritual suicide some years ago for the greater good of the whole. :-)

Turbo Pascal (which I thought was seriously cool back in the mid-80's) evolved into Delphi, which I wish was dead every time I have to use it.

I thought Dbase might be dead but, lo, it lives!

And there's probably some specific language implementations that are long dead along with their hardware (e.g. Wang 3300 BASIC), but there are enough BASIC implementations around that I don't think we can call it 'dead'.

Bob Jarvis

DCL - Digital Command Language, which is scripting language used on VMS, which is also mostly dead.

Andrew Johnson

How about B Language which is the predecessor of C


QUEL, the original query language for the first Ingres version.

Roland Bouman
Actually - I just learned it's not bad.
Roland Bouman

Interlisp Lisp Machine Lisp Turbo Pascal Think C

Larry Watanabe

My first program was written in Mercury autocode in 1963, and later ran on the KDF9 - see These were real languages, compiled and run - input was by paper tape. I'd doubt there are any emulators though I'd be pleased to be proved wrong.