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Esoteric Programming Language

From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An esoteric programming language is a programming language used to instruct computers in a unusual way. These languages, also called "esolangs", are usually made to test how unusual a programming language can get, or simply as a joke.

By far, the oldest esoteric programming language is INTERCAL.[1] INTERCAL was created in 1972 by Don Woods and James Lyon. The two said that their intentions were to create a unique programming language, that wasn't like any that they had used themselves.[2]

In 1993, Wouter van Oortmerssen created FALSE, which was a language designed for unreadable and confusing code, however it had a compiler of just 1024 bytes.[3] FALSE inspired brainfuck, with the idea of creating a even smaller compiler.


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While the features and idea of different languages can be extremely different, some common themes occur. Typically, languages are designed so that programs are hard to write in them, or to have as little commands as possible.[4] For reference, brainfuck has just 8 commands.

Brainfuck Computers

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Multiple people have designed concepts for a computer that runs mainly, or solely on the language brainfuck, most importantly, Sang-woo Jun, at MIT published a paper on their concept.[5] This computer consists of 256 cores, with 50 billion instructions per second.


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  1. Matthew Fuller, Software Studies, MIT Press, 2008
  2. Eric S. Raymond (1996). The New Hacker's Dictionary. MIT Press. p. 258. ISBN 978-0-262-68092-9.
  3. "Interview with Wouter van Oortmerssen". Esoteric.codes. 1 July 2015. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  4. Fuller, Matthew (2008). Software studies: a lexicon. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-06274-9. OCLC 1156851190.
  5. Jun, Sang-Woo. "Brainfuck Computer" (PDF). MIT.

Other Websites

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