Digital Arhcæology in Action

Since almost all work on the REFAL programming languages family was done in the (ex-)USSR, the most problematic part of dealing with that stuff is getting hands on a working compiler, interpreter, or at least an instruction on how to build one.

https://refal.net seems to be a pet project of Turchin and a few of his students. With the death of the language concept author, the further development ceased almost completely, and is only sporadically renewed in Ruᛋᛋia.

Whatever files were available there should be run under MS Windows 9x, so I managed to install one in the UTM emulator, which works surprisingly well given that win 98 came out a quarter of century ago. (However, setting up the equipment drivers was a pain in the butt like all these years ago.)

Windows 98 running in the UTM virtual machine.

When I downloaded the files, I found out a few funny things about the purely Ruᛋᛋian way of developing the software:

  • The help files are mostly useless
  • The examples are not commented at all
  • The instructions are usually written in a very concise manner without any second thought about the other users

The most recent works on the REFAL languages belongs to Alex Konovalov form the BMSTU, and some other guy whom I have not identified yet. They managed to avoid a lot of the issues related to the earlier implementations, but still, their takes on the language are rather on the research side, not on the ‘ready-to-teach’ one.

So, the search continues.


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