5.0569 Icon

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 6 Jan 1992 20:13:47 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0569. Monday, 6 Jan 1992.

(1) Date: Sat, 4 Jan 92 14:30:53 PST (25 lines)
From: gwp@dido.caltech.edu (G. W. Pigman III)
Subject: Re: 5.0562 Qs: Legal DBMS; Icon

(2) Date: Sun, 5 Jan 1992 9:11:17 -0500 (EST) (21 lines)
Subject: Stan Beeler's query about Icon.

(3) Date: Mon, 6 Jan 92 09:33:43 CST (26 lines)
From: (James Marchand) <marchand@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu>
Subject: Icon

(4) Date: Mon, 6 Jan 92 16:23:22 MET (9 lines)
From: Harry Gaylord <galiard@let.rug.nl>
Subject: ICON

(5) Date: Sat, 4 Jan 92 14:54:35 CST (61 lines)
From: Richard Goerwitz <goer@sophist.uchicago.edu>
Subject: Icon for MS-DOS

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Sat, 4 Jan 92 14:30:53 PST
From: gwp@dido.caltech.edu (G. W. Pigman III)
Subject: Re: 5.0562 Qs: Legal DBMS; Icon (2/44)

If you're on the internet, you can obtain icon by anonymous ftp from
cs.arizona.edu ( (The DOS executables are in
/icon/interpr/binaries/msdos.) If you're not, you can contact

Icon Project
Department of Computer Science
Gould-Simpson Building
The University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721
(602) 621-8448
icon-project@cs.arizona.edu (Internet)
... {uunet, allegra, noao}!arizona!icon-project (uucp)

Yesterday Donald S. Klett (dsk@cbnewsj.cb.att.com) posted a message to
comp.sys.mac.apps announcing his willingness to share his port of icon
to the Macintosh. Contact him for more information.

-Mac Pigman
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------28----
Date: Sun, 5 Jan 1992 9:11:17 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Stan Beeler's query about Icon.

Stan Beeler, prompted by an article in BYTE Magazine, asked about the
availability of the Icon language for DOS (ugh!).

Looking at the October 1990 Icon Newsletter (I don't have the 1991 issues
at my fingertips), it lists versions for MS-DOS, MS-DOS/386, and OS/2.
They are available for under $50.

You can contact the Icon Project via e-mail at:
Some versions of Icon are available via anonymous FTP, but on a quick
look I did not see the DOS versions there. That address is:
and look in the icon directory. The postal address is Icon Project,
Department of Computer Science, Gould-SImpson Building, University of
Arizona, Tucson, AZ, 85721.

Jim Cerny, Computing and Information Services, Univ. N.H.
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------36----
Date: Mon, 6 Jan 92 09:33:43 CST
From: (James Marchand) <marchand@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu>
Subject: Icon

To answer Stan Beeler's question on Icon. It is available on many BBS's
and is in the public domain. I have been out of things for a while and am
sadly out of date, but one used to obtain it and all kinds of useful in-
formation from: Icon Project, Department of Computer Science, The Univer-
sity of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721. The Byte article was a very weak
one. I think the British use Snobol more than we do. Susan Hockey has
a very good introduction to Snobol Programming in the Humanities (Oxford
University Press, 1985), and the examples in Christopher Butler's Computers
in Linguistics (Blackwell, 1985) are good. There used to be a SNOBOL BBS
at 303-359-4830, 8-bit, no parity, one stop bit. Byte's articles used to
be a bit more informative and authoritative. The October, 1986 issue had
"An Icon Tutorial," by Ralph E. and Madge T. Griswold, pp. 167-178. These
two are the authors of the Icon bibles, of which the best is: The Implement-
ation of the Icon Programming Language (Princeton University Press, 1986).
It is an excellent language for string manipulation, the source code is in
the public domain, it is implemented in C; I have used it for literally
everything, but particularly for concordance making. Mutant tempora et
certain grammatici, but SNOBOL, SPITBOL and ICON are great languages for
the humanities. Get in touch with the people at Arizona, with Mark Emmer
and Robert Dewar (one of the original developers), mentioned in the Byte
article of this month.
Jim Marchand
(4) --------------------------------------------------------------19----
Date: Mon, 6 Jan 92 16:23:22 MET
From: Harry Gaylord <galiard@let.rug.nl>
Subject: ICON

Public domain versions of ICON for MS-DOS, Mac, unix, and amiga are available
by ftp from cs.arizona.edu. Log in as anonymous and use your userid-address
as password. It is in subdirectories under the icon directory.
Harry Gaylord

(5) --------------------------------------------------------------77----
Date: Sat, 4 Jan 92 14:54:35 CST
From: Richard Goerwitz <goer@sophist.uchicago.edu>
Subject: Icon for MS-DOS

Stan Beeler mentions that he'd like to try the Icon programming language
as a diversion from his work in C and Clipper database language. He asks,
though, whether Icon is available for MS-DOS at a fairly low cost. The
answer here is fairly complex, but I'll gladly offer him (and anyone else
who's interested) what information I have.

First of all, I wonder: Why are you using MS-DOS as a development en-
vironment? Its memory limitations and inability to multitask make it a
bit difficult for many of us to stomach (although its small size and
relative simplicity make it fine for applications). Icon is a very
high level, OS-independent language, and its implementation was geared
for machines with medium or large address spaces and high-level memory
management facilities (i.e. UNIX, VMS, etc.). There is a DOS version
available from cs.arizona.edu (which you can obtain via anonymous ftp),
and it's very popular. I found it klunky, though, and the inherent
limitations of DOS memory management facilities forced me quickly to
move "up."

I still do most of my programming in Icon. Just not on a DOS machine.
Emacs has an Icon mode, so I use it as my Icon development base on var-
ious UNIX machines here at the U of Chicago. I'd have to wonder whether
you'd be better off with Pascal or something, if you want to stay within
the DOS world, but are tired of pushing pointers around in C.

Below is a blurb I send to people who are interested in learning more
about Icon. Perhaps you (or someone else) will find it useful.

-Richard Goerwitz


Icon (1976) - A combination of Prolog-like evaluation mechanisms with
an Algol-based syntax and SNOBOL-derived string processing facilities.
Icon offers automatic storage allocation and garbage collection, as
well as built in associative arrays, lists, "real" strings (i.e. not
just char arrays), and a data type resembling mathematical sets. Icon
is a strongly, though not statically, typed language offering
transparent automatic type conversions (i.e. 10, depending on its
context, may be converted to "10" or 10.0) and an elegant string
processing mechanism known as "scanning." Central to Icon is the
concept of the generator, i.e. the inherent capacity on the part of
expressions to produce multiple results. Central also is the notion
of goal-directed evaluation - a form of backtracking in which the
components of an expression are resumed until some result is achieved,
or else the expression as a whole fails. Icon was originally designed
by Ralph Griswold, Dave Hanson, and Tim Korb. It was first
implemented in C by Steve Wampler. Definitive references: Ralph E.
and Madge T. Griswold, _The Icon Programming Language_ (2nd ed.;
Prentice Hall, 1989); _The Implementation of the Icon Programming
Language_ (Princeton Univ. Pr., 1986).

IDOL (1988) - Acronym for "Icon-derived object language."
IDOL is an object-oriented preprocessor to Icon designed by Clinton
Jeffery, documented in University of Arizona Technical Report 90-10.
Available from the U of Arizona CS Dept., Tuscon AZ, 85721 USA (ftp
cs.arizona.edu ~ftp/icon/docs). Distributed as a standard part of the
Icon Program Library.