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Turing is an interpreted pseudo-Programming Language developed by Holt Software Associates in 1982. It is intentionally similar to Pascal in syntax.



The primary developers of the Turing language were Ric Holt and James Cordy, although it was later maintained by a larger group of people. Ric and James wrote it as an extension of the Euclid Programming Language, an earlier project they had worked on at the University of Toronto. The original Turing variant was written largely to replace Pascal in Canadian high schools and universities, a goal that it has achieved quite admirably. Although originally written as a DOS-only compiler, the language has evolved over time, spreading to other platforms, and including an Object-oriented model. In 2001, Turing became "Object-Oriented Turing," and this is the version that largely dominates Canadian high-school classrooms today.


Turing is first and foremost a learning language, so it is lacking some of the features present in most 'modern' languages. Although Turing interpreters exist, there is no real Turing compiler. The one built into the standard Turing editor actually takes the Turing code and converts it to a machine-dependent "pseudo-code", and then compiles that together with a stand-alone execution environment. This means that whenever a program is compiled, because of the inclusion of the execution environment, even a simple "Hello, World" program will take up approximately 700kb of disk space.

However, for first-time programmers, it is a useful language. It contains all the essential programming features -- Input/Output, Control Flow, Iteration, graphics, etc. It strives to make common tasks (such as recieving keyboard input) as simple as possible, so that the student can focus on the logic of the program rather than details about the implementation. Most interestingly, it also offers direct access to the PC Parallel port, making it an ideal choice for high-school level Computer Engineering courses.

Version History

The latest version of Turing, according to Holt Software Associates, is 4.0.4c. However, there is a 4.0.4d (4.0.5), 4.1 and 4.1.1 versions available.

Before HoltSoft went out of business, they made Turing available for free download. They have since stopped distributing them, but can still be found on CompSci.Ca.

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