Waterloo Systems Language: Tutorial and Language Reference


134 pages
Contains Index
ISBN 0-919884-00-8






Charles R. Crawford, a former associate professor of computer science at
York University, is a computer programming and mathematics consultant in


Starting with the WATFOR system, the Computer Systems Group and now Waterloo Computing Systems Ltd. have been designing and marketing computer systems since the middle 1960s. They have recently developed several systems for personal or micro-computers: microPASCAL, microFORTRAN, microBASIC, and microCOBOL. These systems are built around programming languages that are already well-known but with added features that make the new languages especially useful for teaching programming and computer applications.

The present work, on the other hand, describes a language, the Waterloo Systems Language (WSL), which is very different from any one in common use. The “C” language, originally designed at Bell Laboratories, is the language most similar to WSL. Both languages allow the programmer not only to describe what is to be done but to control in some detail how it is done. On the other hand, neither language is fitted to any one computer; thus, once a program is written and tested on one computer, it will run as efficiently on any other computer that has a version of the language. For example, the “C” system itself is written in “C” except for a small “kernal,” which translates the remaining parts of the system from the “C” language to machine language. This same “bootstrap” method is probably used with WSL also.

Like the other works in the WATFAC series of publications, this book begins with a tutorial introduction to the language, written for readers who have some programming experience. The second part of the book is a reference manual, which lists each keyword and function of the language with a detailed technical description of its effect in a program, together with an example of its use. Both sections are clearly written, and the examples in the tutorial section are well chosen to illustrate each point. This book is definitely the most interesting one so far in the WATFAC series.


Boswell, F.D., “Waterloo Systems Language: Tutorial and Language Reference,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 23, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/39080.