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Re: History of GCC

On Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 1:49 PM, Ed Smith-Rowland <> wrote:
> On 10/26/2016 01:17 PM, Will Hawkins wrote:
>> On Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 1:15 PM, Ian Lance Taylor <> wrote:
>>> On Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 9:31 AM, Will Hawkins <> 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.
> There was a split between what would become gfortran and what I still think
> is g95 (
> gfortran was stood up at gcc-4.0 I think.  The earlier g77 front end was
> just too difficult to repair.
> Also, Fortran-90, 95 were out with many useful changes and people wanted to
> add them to a new codebase.
> The author of g95 developed a pure GPL (not library LGPL version of the
> Fortran runtime.)  This was the split.
> This was in mid 2000 or so.
> I am a numerics geek.  The fact that gcc has both C++ and Fortran in a
> single kit is very important to me.
> I think it maybe one of the last systems that has both.  Certainly it is the
> only Free suite that does.
> The Fortran developers* have kept up rather aggressively with Fortran-95,
> 2000, 2008 and TRs.
> * my contributions are exclusively to C++, and the C++ linrary.

Craig Burley has a website with some history about the G77 project:

I believe that he initially asked for feedback at the beginning of the
Fortran project if he should focus on Fortran 77 or the early Fortran
90/95 standard.  At the time, there was little adoption of /
conversion to Fortran 90, so the overwhelming response was Fortran 77,
with the implicit assumption that a fully conformant compiler would
appear the next month. By the time g77 was generally usable, Fortran
90/95 was gaining a lot of traction.

- David

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