Thinking Forth

Peter Kitson

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Sample Chapter From Thinking Forth
     Copyright © Leo Brodie

The Philosophy of Forth

Forth is a language and an operating system. But that's not all: It's also the embodiment of a philosophy. The philosophy is not generally described as something apart from Forth. It did not precede Forth, nor is it described anywhere apart from discussions of Forth, nor does it even have a name other than Forth

What is this philosophy? How can you apply it to solve your software problems?

Before we can answer these questions, let's take 100 steps backwards and examine some of the major philosophies advanced by computer scientists over the years. After tracing the trajectory of these advances, we'll compare and contrast Forth with these state-of-the-art programming principles.

An Armchair History of Software Elegance

In the prehistoric days of programming, when computers were dinosaurs, the mere fact that some genius could make a program run correctly provided great cause for wonderment. As computers became more civilized, the wonder waned. Management wanted more from programmers and from their programs.

As the cost of hardware steadily dropped, the cost of software soared. It was no longer good enough for a program to run correctly. It also had to be developed quickly and maintained easily. A new demand began to share the spotlight with correctness. The missing quality was called elegance.

In this section we'll outline a history of the tools and techniques for writing more elegant programs.