Apr 25

This is the first in what will be a series of articles, each highlighting an obscure programming language.

There are over 2700 languages spoken on Earth. And while there are only about a dozen popular programming languages, there are over 400 known programming languages, many of which you can see in this extensive “Hello World” collection.


A+ is an interactive, interpreted, strongly-typed language created in 1988 by Arthur Whitney for numerically intensive applications such as finance. Other developers at Morgan Stanley extended the language, adding a graphical user interface with automatic synchronization between graphical widgets and data.

A+ is an array programming language and dialect of APL. Array programming is a high-level model that allows the programmer to operate on entire sets of data, without having to resort to explicit loops of individual operations. Unlike object oriented programming, which decomposes data to its constituent parts, array oriented programming groups data together.

A+ runs on Linux under the GNU General Public License, and development is done primarily in the Xemacs editor. A+ requires a special font called “kapl” to display the original APL symbols. Arthur Whitney went on to create the K programming language, a proprietary derivative of A+ that doesn’t require a special font and removes some of A+’s complexity.

Hello, World in A+

[]<-‘Hello World!’


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Article published on April 25, 2008

10 Responses to “A+: Obscure Programming Language of the Month”

  1. Kelly Says:

    Actually, the number of known, mutually unintelligible human languages is over 6000 and pushing 7000. (‘Mutually unintelligible’ is meant to distinguish languages from dialects.) See the Ethnologue website for more details.

  2. rwcx3 Says:

    are there any books out there on the a+ programming language?

  3. Chiropody stalybridge Says:

    Excellent post, keep up the good work.

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  5. Neeraj Gupta Says:

    I do not believe that A+ is strongly typed. I believe it is very weakly typed in the tradion of all APLs

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  7. Harry Says:

    A is based on APL which is really old. (Circa 1966). A was created in 1988. A+ is a descendent of A but it was formed in 1992. The + in A+ is the graphical part.

    Obscure language to many APL is still used, and there are multiple companies still making interpreters for it (including the original company – IBM). No cheap to buy a commercial interpreter since the costs are over $1K. Still there are ten of thousands of people that know APL and is still a requirement for some doctorates at Stanford.

    The “magic” of APL is the is was the original RAD enviroment. When I work as an APL programmer our ratio of coders vs the competition was at least 10 to 1.

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