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Also known as Programming Language for Business, PL/B is a business-oriented programming language designed for Datapoint Corporation in 1972.

Datapoint produced the Datapoint 2200, which some historians credit as being the first personal computer, the first units shipping in 1971. Originally known as DATABUS, the language was designed as an alternative to COBOL because the 8-bit Datapoint couldn't fit COBOL into its limited memory, and because COBOL didn't have the facilities to deal with the Datapoint's built-in keyboard and screen.

Datapoint Corporation grew rapidly and was a Fortune 500 company by the early 1980s. However, the company then went into a decline, culminating a corporate takeover in the mid-1980s and bankruptcy in 2000, after which the company was broken up into three entities.

While DATABUS had been proprietary software, Datapoint refused to release its trademark on the DATABUS name when it ceased development of the product. Its continued development has been under the name of Programming Language for Business or, as it is more commonly known, PL/B.

PL/B has grown into a powerful business programming language. It is considered to be easy to learn and has the power to support today's interactive shared-data environments. Several companies are developing compilers, interpreters, translators, and CASE tools for the language.

PL/B is a third-generation programming language, like C, COBOL, and Fortran. It is also an ANSI standard language. While COBOL is a more popular business language than PL/B, there are strengths and weaknesses to both. PL/B is capable of supporting multiuser environments, simultaneous share-data access, support for highly interactive character mode keyboard and screen handling, and powerful data storage and retrieval mechanisms, well beyond most COBOL products.

All PL/B vendors support these features. The Technical Committee J15 has developed the ANSI Standard for the PL/B programming language, which is supported by at least nine independent companies developing PL/B products.

Similar to Java and .NET, PL/B programs are compiled into an intermediate bytecode, which is then interpreted by a runtime library. Because of this, many PL/B programs can run in DOS, Linux, Unix, and Windows operating environments. The PL/B development environments are influenced by Java and Visual Basic, offering many of the same features.

Major implementations of the language are DATABUS, DB/C, DX, and PL/B.

By whatever name, the PL/B language, its implementations, and versions, are the focus of topics in this category, along with any IDEs, editors, compilers, or other tools designed to facilitate PL/B programming. Tutorials, guides, user groups, and forums focused on the language are also appropriate in this category.

 

 

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