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The SAM76 language is a list and string processor designed for interactive and user-directed applications, including artificial intelligence programming, and permits high portability from machine to machine. The language shares certain features in common with LISP, Forth, and shell programming languages of the UNIX operating system. Claude A. R. Kagan, the language's developer, sought to combine within a single interpretive processor, the characteristics of two different string and general-purpose macro generators and the provisions to embed multiple infix operator mathematical systems.
SAM76 was designed to:
- be very pure syntactically and semantically;
- require a minimum of user keyboarding to achieve powerful results;
- fit in a very small computer system;
- permit editing, testing, and executing modules interactively;
- not prevent the user from doing strange things with the syntax of the language yielding, however, predictable results.
The language was based around the idea of programming with macros. A user will define a macro (a code word that can be defined by the user to invoke a specific set of instructions to perform a routine within the program) to execute a set of instructions, usually in either machine or assembly language, and use the macro in the program. In this way, a user need only define a routine once and then when that particular operation, or string is required, the user can substitute is with the macro name.
Characteristics of the SAM76 language
The SAM76 interpreter also provides for a highly reactive and interactive language that can almost converse with the user from task to task. Consequently, the language has the capability of performing complex operations in program control, text editing and manipulation, gaming, simulation, and mathematics.
Because it has features similar to LISP, Forth and other list processors, SAM76 also has the capability of functioning as a query language, providing powerful human machine interaction that uses keyboard data from an interaction to modify and shape future responses. The language is also capable of growing by extension. Because, like LISP and Logo, there is almost no difference between procedures and data structures, procedures can be treated as data and be acted upon by other procedures, even procedures defined by different users. The new procedures that are mapped or created behave as if they were language primitives or inherent functions of the language. Like Logo, this means that new users can create their own separate vocabularies which can be saved and executed, adding to the language vocabulary and providing for individual customization.