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What Does INTERCAL Mean?

The Compiler Language with no Pronounceable Acronym, or INTERCAL, is a programming language developed in the early 1970s by Princeton University students Don Woods and James Lyon. Unlike other computer languages of its time, this one is classified as a parody, with many unnecessary and confusing elements meant to poke fun at the software design conventions of that era. Even the name, INTERCAL, is a parody, since the actual name of the language in no way corresponds to the letters in the acronym.


Techopedia Explains INTERCAL

As a parody language, INTERCAL has any number of unusual and odd pieces of syntax and methods. These include the use of a $ for a “mingle operator” which was supposed to be a reference to software costs, and a question mark for another operator, which indicated common confusion on the part of the reader. Another strange aspect of this language was a modifier “Please” that was required to be inserted into program multiple times, in order to keep the programming code “polite.” Even in documentation, INTERCAL was a quite unusual language, for example, with the addition of a “tonsil” instead of an appendix at the end of the manual.

Despite its extremely unusual code structure, INTERCAL did function as a capable computer programming language, albeit not a widely used one.


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