Poughkeepsie Chapter of the Association For Computing Machinery

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Forgotten APL Influences


Jon McGrew


Monday,       7:30 PM


Marist College, Hancock Center (Building 14 on map), Room 2023. Park just north of Hancock Center, or in parking lot on south-east corner of Route 9 and Fulton Street. We thank Marist College for hosting the chapter's meetings.

More Information

This program is free and open to the public. Attendees should RSVP at Meetup.com.

All are welcome to join us beforehand for dinner at the Palace Diner at 6:00 PM.

For further information, go to Pok.ACM.org (QR code below):

QR code RSVP to ACM Poughkeepsie at   Meetup.com

About the Topic

Although the speaker spent his career involved with the APL programming language, this is not a talk about the language — in fact, it’s not a particularly technical talk at all. This talk focuses on the history of various computer developments, and looks more at some of the breakthrough facilities that were created with the language than at the language itself.

There are a lot of things from the past which APL pioneered and others where APL was very early to the game, but although the facilities may be familiar to us, their APL origins seem to be forgotten. We are all familiar with instant messaging, email, medical CAT scans, TV graphics, word processors, and spreadsheets ... but are you aware that these all have links to APL? And what was the first PC? ... You might be surprised.

This is a repeat of the talk that the speaker gave at the APL 50-th Anniversary Conference in Stuttgart, Germany. This is intended to be a fun evening, so it will be a multimedia presentation, with film clips to illustrate various points.

About the Speaker

Jon McGrew worked in the APL Development groups at both IBM and Morgan Stanley. He has specialized in working with various flavors of the APL programming language throughout his career. His focus has been on the design and development of the language itself (as opposed to the underlying implementations), and on applications. In the 1970’s, Jon developed one of the first worldwide e-mail systems, with service to seventeen countries; it was, of course, implemented entirely in APL.

He has spent his career working as both an APL programmer and a technical writer, and is the author of widely-used programming text An Introduction to APL2, and editor of the periodical Jot Dot Times. For many years, McGrew hosted semi-annual international APL conferences around the world. He received the IBM President’s Award for service to the IBM APL community. Later, he was an APL applications writer within IBM’s Numerically Intensive Computing group, providing support for APL on supercomputers. He then joined IBM’s APL language development group under Scientific Languages, where he did applications programming for APL products. He volunteered for twelve years as the Production Editor for APL Quote Quad from SIGAPL under ACM. McGrew is the 2001 recipient of the industry-wide Kenneth E. Iverson Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Development and Application of APL.

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