INTERCAL was inspired by one ambition: to have a compiler language which has nothing at all in common with any other major language. By 'major' was meant anything with which the authors were at all familiar, e.g., FORTRAN, BASIC, COBOL, ALGOL, SNOBOL, SPITBOL, FOCAL, SOLVE, TEACH, APL, LISP, and PL/I. For the most part, INTERCAL has remained true to this goal, sharing only the basic elements such as variables, arrays, and the ability to do I/O, and eschewing all conventional operations other than the assignment statement (FORTRAN "=").
INTERCAL's main advantage over other programming languages is its strict simplicity. It has few capabilities, and thus there are few restrictions to be kept in mind. Since it is an exceedingly easy language to learn, one might expect it would be a good language for initiating novice programmers. Perhaps surprising, then, is the fact that it would be more likely to initiate a novice into a search for another line of work. As it turns out, INTERCAL is more useful (which isn't saying much) as a challenge to professional programmers.
- From THE INTERCAL PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE - REVISED REFERENCE MANUAL, With C-INTERCAL Revisions, Copyright (C) 1973 by Donald R. Woods and James M. Lyon, Copyright (C) 1996 by Eric S. Raymond
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