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BCPL, 1966-1970, n.d.


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The material in this section includes correspondence on CPL and BCPL (MS. Eng. misc. b. 272/C.185-MS. Eng. misc. b. 272/C.188), copies of the BCPL Reference Manual (MS. Eng. misc. b. 272/C.189) and Compiler (MS. Eng. misc. b. 272/C.190), and notes and routines by Strachey and the Programming Research Group 1967-1973 for BCPL (MS. Eng. misc. b. 272/C.191-MS. Eng. misc. b. 272/C.196).

The initials BCPL are usually understood to denote Basic Computer Programming Language, though see MS. Eng. misc. b. 271/C.172 for Strachey's alternative expansion Baby CPL.

BCPL was devised by Martin Richards at M.I.T. as an implementation subset of CPL. In a letter to L. Goldthorpe, 3 November 1967 (MS. Eng. misc. b. 272/C.186) Strachey described BCPL as looking 'rather like CPL but is designed to be easy to compile and to make it possible to produce fairly good code'. The original plan had been for Richards to write a CPL compiler in BCPL, but he later decided to concentrate his efforts on improving the BCPL compiler (see MS. Eng. misc. b. 272/C.187). In Oxford, Strachey and the Programming Research Group developed an operating system written entirely in BCPL for their Modular I computer which was delivered in March 1969.

Because BCPL was developed from CPL, it is not possible to make a strict distinction between work on the two languages. The folders below are mainly concerned with BCPL and usually bear Strachey's headings to that effect, but there are numerous references to CPL, and it will have been observed that some folders in the preceding section on CPL contain papers or material on BCPL. Similarly, it has been thought best to leave material on BCPL in the 'Cambridge' period of Strachey's career although the work on BCPL was done after his move to Oxford. For additional material on the Mod. I and KDF9 computers, as well as other projects of the Programming Research Group, see MS. Eng. misc. b. 273/C.208-MS. Eng. misc. b. 275/C.223.


  • Creation: 1966-1970, n.d.

Language of Materials

  • English

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Eng. misc. b. 272/C.185-272/C.196

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom