WATIAC was a virtual computer developed for teaching the principles of assembly language programming to undergraduates. WATIAC, and the WATMAP assembly language that ran on it were developed in 1973 by the newly founded Computer Systems Group, at the University of Waterloo, under the direction of Wes Graham.
In the 1970s most programming was conducted through batch stream processing, where the operating systems of the day, like IBM`s OS-360, would allow a single program to use all the resources of a large computer, for a limited period of time. Since student programs were only run a few times, possibly only once, after they had been successfully written, and debugged, efficient running of those programs was of relatively little importance, compared with quick compilation and relatively good error messages.
Waterloo had been a leader in writing single pass, compile-and-go teaching compilers, with first its WATFOR FORTRAN compiler, and its WATBOL COBOL compiler. WATMAP was developed to be a similar compile-and-go teaching compiler.
- "Chronology - 1970s: The Evolution of The University of Waterloo Continues --1973". University of Waterloo. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
The CSG developed WATIAC, a hypothetical computer, and the WATMAP assembler at the request of AA/CS. The integrated system was used to teach assembly language and machine architecture to Mathematics and Computer students.
- Ron H. Cooper (1974). An Introduction to WATIAC and WATMAP. Waterloo Foundation for the Advancement of Computing. ISBN 9780919884021. Retrieved 2012-11-. Check date values in:
- J.A. Smith (1975). "Architecture and Operation of the WATIAC Computer". University of Waterloo Department of Computer Science. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
- Christopher Brown-Syed (2011). Parents of Invention: The Development of Library Automation Systems in the Late 20th Century: The Development of Library Automation Systems in the Late 20th Century. ABC-CLIO. p. 10. ISBN 9781591587910. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
During the 1970s, the University of Waterloo, located in southern Ontario, Canada, was almost as synonymous with computing as MIT or Berkeley. It had developed extensions to the popular general-purpose Fortran programming language called WATFOR and WATFIV and its own version of the equally popular business computing language COBOL, called WATBOL.