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Re: History of GCC


On Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 1:15 PM, Ian Lance Taylor <iant@google.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 9:31 AM, Will Hawkins <whh8b@virginia.edu> wrote:
>>
>> Thank you for your response! I don't think that there has to be
>> controversy to be interesting. Obviously that split/reunification was
>> important, but I think that there might even be some value in
>> documenting the minutia of the project's growth. In other words, what
>> was the process for incorporating each new version of the C++
>> standard? Who and why did GCC start a frontend for X language? Things
>> like that.
>
> It is easier to answer specific questions.
>
> There have always been GCC developers that have tracked the evolution
> of C++.  The first C++ standard was of course in 1998, at which point
> the language was over 10 years old, so there were a lot of C++
> language changes before then.  GCC has generally acquired new language
> features as they were being adopted into the standard, usually
> controlled by options like the current -std=c++1z.  This of course
> means that the new features have shifted as the standard has shifted,
> but as far as I know that hasn't happened too often.
>
> GCC started as a C compiler.  The C++ frontend was started by Michael
> Tiemann around 1987 or so.  It started as a patch and was later
> incorporated into the mainline.
>
> The Objective C frontend was started at NeXT.  They originally
> intended to keep it proprietary, but when they understood that the GPL
> made that impossible they contributed it back.  I forget when the
> Objective C++ frontend came in.
>
> Cygnus Support developed the Chill and, later, Java frontends.  The
> Chill frontend was removed later, and in fact the Java frontend was
> removed just recently.
>
> As I recall Fortran was a hobbyist project that eventually made it in.
> There were two competing forks, I think.  I don't remember too much
> about that off the top of my head.
>
> The Ada frontend was developed at AdaCore.
>
> The Go frontend was written by me, mostly because I like Go and I've
> been working on GCC for a long time.  I work at Google, and Go was
> developed at Google, but there wouldn't be a GCC Go frontend if I
> hadn't decided to write one.
>
> There is a Modula frontend that is always close to getting in.  I
> think there is a Pascal frontend out there too, somewhere.  And a D
> frontend.
>
> Ian

Wow, thanks Ian! This is awesome stuff! As I read through it, I may
have some additional questions. If I do, would you mind if I emailed
you directly? Thanks again for taking the time to write all this down!
Fascinating!

Will


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