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Best Pascal Programming Books

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Turbo Pascal (TP) used to be probably the best first programming language to teach in the high school and at the first courses of the university. Recently JavaScript started to compete with it as the first language. But still TP is a nice simple language very suitable for learning programming and it contains an excellent debugger.  Modula-2 also  is an interesting language -- one of the first widespread languages that implemented coroutines but there are no great compilers from it.  Both Pascal and Modula now belong to so called  "retro-programming".  Most compilers (and some of excellent quality) are now abandonware including all famous "turbo" and "Delphi" lines of Borland compilers. Delphi proved to be more productive language then C++, especially for development of programs with graphical interface. But it is also by-and-large gone. Some major application are still written in it (Total Commander is one example)

TP is a derivative of Pascal and Modula. In a way Pascal was the first "one step forward -- two steps back" or "return to basics" programming language. It was created by Wirth as a reaction on overcomplixity of Algol 68 (which was modest language by contemporary standards, times change ;-).   Wirth had found his salvation as a false prophet of structured programming and interpretation of the Structured Programming Gospel according to St. Edsger Dijkstra. This generally false and primitive vision of control structures in programming languages became pretty widespread and was taught by clueless careerists  in all major universities ;-). Even Knuth was not able to dispel its false message. While structured programming has some positive effects by bringing attention to the control statement if programming languages like many other religions it induces its believers a distorted perception of reality and, as a consequence, an inability to deal with reality effectively.  As Paul Abrahams aptly noted, the key problem with structured programming is that it is elevation to good heuristics into bad dogma, and the creation of the illusion that difficult problems are easy.  If structured programming is treated as a style -- a collection of good programming practices it is less objectionable but treated as a collection of inflexible rules it is definitely harmful.

Pascal suffered from those dogmas and it is really strange that such talented language designer as Wirth made so made blunders in the language. But he implemented simple and open source resursive decent based compiler which was free and very fast by standards of the day. That outwighted its blunders in the design of the language. The rest is history.

Still Pascal hurts. For example it has too rigid loop statement (increment can be only one), static arrays that are even less flexible then in Fortran (that an achievement, in a very negative sense). Like any dogma it led to increase, not decrease of programming efforts concealing this fact by brave verification rhetoric's.  TP occurred after Wirth realized and tried to rectify its blunders in Modula and Modula 2 languages. We can view TP as essentially Modula language without coroutines.

There is something wrong with C as non-system programming language. Outside of system programming it provides too much rope to hang yourself.  And while TP may not be the best answer it does demonstrate the limitations of C for general purpose programming and first of all low productivity and implicitly creates a set of nasty and subtle bugs and security vulnerabilities (famous buffere overflows, etc). I guess that for applications like editors and file managers TP programmers are approximately twice as productive as their C counterparts.

The big advantage of Pascal was that one can use it in DOS on the cheapest PC possible and still get an excellent programming education. Moreover an excellent the TP 5.5 compiler  (and may be now TP6 and TP7, please check Borland site) are now available for free from Borland/Inprise and the debugger in this compilers is really good...

Moreover they works well under Linux DOS emulation. And again I would like to stress that one could certainly accomplish a lot with Turbo Pascal on any PC with DOS (really any, including a 286, if you can find one). All you need to acquire the deep knowledge of  fundamentals of programming and data structures is the cheapest PC possible and the desire to learn.  That means that Pascal is the most democratic introductory language ;-)

I would like to stress it again, Turbo Pascal, so to speak, is the most democratic language. And not only introductory one. Historically TP and its close cousins Modula-2 and Delphy were used for building very complex stuff  (games, graphics, BBSes, etc.). The advantage of Turbo Pascal is in providing the student with exercises which are enjoyable (graphics, sound, etc.), and this enables the teacher to make course more interesting.

It is easy to imitate Logo style environment in Turbo Pascal. And my experience as a professional educator proves that the task of generating musical tunes is an excellent way to teach loops (may be one of the best approaches for teaching loops possible).

I feel that the students will develop their own style and abilities much quicker in Turbo Pascal than in C.  Turbo Pascal is less complex, has much better compile time diagnostic and better string handling than C.  Modula is one of the few languages that has coroutines support and thus can beat C in many tasks.  But who cares -- C is the king of the hill and nothing succeed like success ;-).  C is also more realistic language than Turbo Pascal but it's a more complex and a lower level language (structured assember).

Good electronic books (including documentation for TP) are available  (actually they are better than introductory  books on C because Pascal is a better introductory language).

Anyone interested in becoming a decent programmer should learn both, but Turbo Pascal first!

Much like C language,  the initial version of Pascal was an attempt to simplify programming language. C was system programming language derived from PL/1 and BCPL. It was designed as a high level assembler.  Pascal is a derivative of Algol and is a reaction of creation of Algol-68 (complex, PL/1-style version of Algol).

Although historically Pascal was a negative reaction on the complexity of Algol 68, it's mainly "The Last of the Mohicans" of the Algol 60 family of languages -- a simple language derived from Algol 60 that was initially intended as a teaching language. One of the explisit design goal was the speed of compilation so that you do not even need a linker.

If you wrote something as a negative reaction to the overcomplexity it's easy to run into another extreme. At the time of writing Wirth was influenced both by structured programming and formal verification of programs -- two fashionable at this time religious movements  :-) and in process he made some regretful mistakes that were partially corrected in Modula and Turbo Pascal.

Actually a lot of verification zealots were promiscuous enough to became later object-oriented programming fundamentalists, so you better beware ;-) But Wirth was a very talented language designer and despite some elements of structured programming fundamentalism (and verification fundamentalism) Pascal proved to be very useful language and has important descendants (Modula-2, Modula-3, Ada, Turbo Pascal, Delphi, Oberon).

In fact, both C and Pascal served as a foundation for the whole family of the languages. Pascal-derived languages are not as widely used in commercial environment as C++ (only Delphi is still more or less visible), but they still represent an important approach to programming language design. Both Windows and Linux has  Modula-2 and Modula-3   compilers freely available.

Modula-2 is a great language. One of the few mainstream languages that implements coroutines. Actually I strongly recommend using Modula-2 instead of Turbo Pascal after one gets some experience with the language.

Polytechnique Modula-3 (PM3) is the most up-to-date freeware implementation of the Modula-3 language, libraries, and runtime environment.

Good electronic books are available for Modula-2, less for Modula-3.

See also Softpanorama Pascal links 

Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov

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Old News ;-)

[Dec 15, 2001] Delphi 6 Developer's Guide by Xavier Pacheco , Steve Teixeira

Anthony Chua (see more about me) from LA

5 out of 5 stars Puts you on the road to Delphi Guruhood, April 6, 2002

Unlike Cantu's Mastering Delphi 6, Delphi Developer's Guide is intended for those who are able to digest the Borland manuals and wish to take their Delphi knowledge even further. Absolutely no fluff here, every page contains interesting and useful info and the book as a whole is full of useful techniques you can use in real-world projects.

All aspects of Delphi 6 programming are covered here: from Win32 API calls to threading to CORBA to writing your own VCL components to advanced Delphi databasing topics and more importantly, each is covered in depth.

My favorite parts include the section where the author describes in very readable manner how Delphi evolved from the first version to version 6, highlighting the important differences and improvements introduced with each new version.

Another is the chapter on threads which explained thread basics very well and went a lot further (more than I was ready for actually). This chapter alone is so densely packed with info that it alone could be worth a third the price of the book!

Greg Newton from Sydney, Australia

3 out of 5 stars Poorly written - but a start, March 15, 2002

I have this book. There's not much literature around about Delphi 6 yet, so this is better than nothing. It contains a lot of information, however it appears to have been written in a hurry - it is very poorly put together. I have just been following the WebSnap chapter examples through, and the steps aren't in the correct order, some are repeated, and are not specific. Incorrect component names are referred to etc etc. It's just as well I have some experience and can work it out and see the errors. Definitely not recommended for anyone with little Delphi or Web Application experience.

[April 1, 2000] Learn Pascal by Sam A. Abolrous

Paperback - 350 pages
Bk&Cd Rom edition (April 2000)
Republic of Texas Pr; ISBN: 155622706X ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.08 x 9.29 x 7.52

Avg. Customer Review: 3 out of 5 stars

Number of Reviews: 1

Ronald Boykin (see more about me) from Emeryville CA

3 out of 5 stars A Good Beginning Programming Book, May 12, 2000

This book is a good beginning programming book. The author lays out the structure of the language and programming in general very nicely. The price is right because I think you get a full copy of Delphi 4 Standard Edition for no charge!

I spent a whole half hour skimming through this book. I've programmed in Turbo Pascal after learning a little dos basic. Pascal is the best language to learn programming with. It protects you from mistakes and teaches structured programming. From there you can learn any other language much easier. The book is a must for the beginner or a person that would like to review the language. I was disappointed that their were no Delphi sections that I could see.

[Oct 2, 1994] Using Turbo Pascal 6.0-7.0/Book and Disk by Julien O. Hennefeld

Nick Hook ( from East Coast, U.S.

4 out of 5 stars "Good, but not for the money", June 16, 1998

This book is an excellent source of information for the beginning programmer, and is good at giving easy to understand demos. And it covers everything from doing math and producing output to the screen up to object-oriented programming and type arrays.

But for the price is not as good as others! If you want to learn basics I recommend a different language (QBasic is best for basics) and the book QBasic Programming for Dummies is great! If you have any questions on Pascal, QBasic, or VB EMail me.

KarimC MS Blogger on May 23, 2004

Good Beginner book if you have other resources

I am a very very beginner to programming and this is the first language that I am learning. Although I am pretty savvy with writing excel formulas, and little batch files, this book gives a clear explaination of theories to the novice programmer. This is important because a strong foundation must be laid before tackling code.

The only problem I have is some of the examples that they give in the book they dont explain in detail. For example, In chapter 4, they talk about "If then" statements and give an example but the example also has keywords in it that was not covered in the previous chapters. What do those keywords mean? If you are to introduce something that was not covered in the previous chapter, break the example down and explain the new example line by line.

Good book though so far.

Beginning Delphi 2.0 by Peter Wright

*** Average...

by Peter Wright, Gordon Rogers (Editor)

Our Price: $29.56

Paperback - 507 pages Bk&Disk edition (June 1996)
Wrox Press Inc; ISBN: 1874416745 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.27 x 9.22 x 7.21 Sales Rank: 63,888
Avg. Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Number of Reviews: 4

5 out of 5 stars Great book for beginners, December 8, 1997
Reviewer: A reader from Miroslav Branilovic , Croatia
This book is really great ! Even if You are not familiar to programming, with this book you could soon have a good base on programming in Delphi. The book is very easy to understand because it is writen in very simple way, with many examples. I wolud suggest this book to everyone who is novice to programming, and who plans to make programs in this great developing tool, Delphi 2.0

5 out of 5 stars A well thought out and written book for beginners., November 5, 1997
Reviewer: from San Diego, CA
Of all the beginning Delphi texts, this is probably the best. Peter Wright does an excellent job in touching on the many aspects of Delphi, without becoming tangled in time wasting examples and exercises. As a bonus, the last exercise is the development of a complete application, kind of a graduate exercise if you will. Highly recommended.

4 out of 5 stars Learn by Example, June 12, 1997
This is great book for someone that wants to get up to speed quickly with Delphi. The author mixes a good technical discussion of the language with humor and the end effect is learning without falling asleep. The goal of this book is to get you started, and it takes a firm hands-on approach to accomplish this task. By the time you finish (and at 500 pages, you CAN finish it), you'll have touched base with all of the major features that Delphi provides

Learn Pascal in Three Days by Sam A. Abolrous

Sam A. Abolrous / Paperback / Published 1997
Amazon price: $19.96 ~ You Save: $4.99 (20%)

One of the few books on Pascal published after 1993

Computer Programming in Pascal the Easy Way

Douglas Downing, Mark Yoshimi (Photographer) / Paperback / Published 1984
Amazon price: $11.96 ~ You Save: $2.99 (20%)

Delphi 2 Developer's Guide (Sams Developer's Guide)

***+ Was available in electronic form from now defuct MCP bookshelf. Probably still can be found on Internet...

Xavier Pacheco, Steve Teixeira / Paperback / Published 1996

Delphi 4 Bible

Tom Swan is a great author...

Tom Swan / Paperback / Published 1998

Mastering Delphi 4

Marco Cantu / Mass Market Paperback

Charlie Calvert's Delphi 4 Unleashed

Charlie Calvert / Paperback / Published 1998

[Oct 1, 1994] Turbo PASCAL by Elliot B. Koffman, Bruce R. Maxium

Should be good. The author is a well know expert in Ada and published a lot of books. Here are a couple of Amazon readers reviews:
SDiZ on December 21, 1999

The best book I have seen.

This book is surely the best book I have seen. It not only talk about Turbo Pascal, It teach many other Programming skill. It would be much better if it provide full solution to all its exercise on February 12, 2000
My great Programming Guider----Elliot B. Koffman..
I would totally recommend the Book_ TURBO PASCAL 5th Edition Elliot B. Koffman for all programming student and people who are interested in programming. Junior student are Highly recommend as well.Even you are the first time reading programming books before. The book is easy to read ,you will learn the right programming skills and methods which are applicable to writing other computer Language as well in the future..e.g C or C++programming.

Totally 18 chapters in the book,I finished each chapter each day and I can write complex program structure at my work station.

The great MOTIVATION when reading this book is ,unlike other programming textbook so boring, this book also have an INTERVIEW to different Professional people who studying or working with computer in University , or professional Governmental departments with discussing variety of computer science topics in different professional points of view after you finished each chapter. So you will find interesting and enriched after finished each chapter and assignment questions seriouly. LIKE READING A STORY BOOK OR HAVING A PROGRAMMING LECTURE WITH INTERNATIONAL POINTS OF VIEW.

Programming often gives us a first impression that it is tedious.But Elliot really did a good thing to make it simple and more HUMAN there. Which is 21th Century demanding for!

Quinn Taylor on March 15, 2000
This was the required text for my Intro to Programming college class. If you have never programmed before, this is a good book to start with, because Pascal is a language built for teaching skills you can continue to use in the future. The author does a pretty clear job of explaining things, although you learn a lot faster in lectures than just sitting down with the book. (Although is can be tricky to find a Pascal Compiler nowadays.)

The examples are pretty good, and arranged so you build on what you already know. He doesn't try to overload the reader with too much information. However, there are topics that take a lot of thinking and some experience. Make sure you have a compiler available so you can write and run programs when you go thru the book, or it's easy to get lost. If you have someone who can help explain some of the more difficult ideas to you, or if you already know what you're doing, you should be set.

I personally used the book more as a reference than something to read straight through. The book has excellent forms for function syntax which stand out to the reader, so they are easy to find if you are trying to fix compile errors. One *major* drawback for new programmers is that because it is organized as a teaching text, you don't get the answers to the examples. (Unless you want to buy the teacher's edition...)

If you have programmed before, it will be much easier to understand the concepts, although if you're really intent on learning how, this book has everything you'll need to start out from scratch.

[May 1, 1993] Turbo Pascal 7.0, an Introduction to the Art and Science of Programming by Walter J. Savitch

5 out of 5 stars This book is the Computer Programmer's Bible for Pascal, October 19, 1998
Reviewer: A reader from Orlando, FL
This was my textbook for Pascal at the University at Central Florida. It has helped me through Computer Science I and II. It is well written and easy to understand. It helps for both the beginner and advanced programmers. This is a need for anyone who programs in Pascal.

5 out of 5 stars A great way to learn Pascal, August 11, 1997
Reviewer: A reader from Chesapeake, VA
The High School I attended used this book for its first-year programming course. It is well written, and clearly explains all of the basic concepts, without leaving out any of the more complex parts of the language

[Dec 1, 1984] Computer Programming in Pascal the Easy Way

***** A very good Introductory book from London, United Kingdom

4 out of 5 stars A fabulous introduction to pascal but just an introduction., December 27, 1998

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants an introduction to programming using the pascal language. However, the book is purely an introduction and therefore only includes a brief number of topics to get you started on the language.

A particularly good thing about this book is that it teaches standard pascal and not just borland's turbo pascal.

Turbo Pascal : Self Teaching Guide by Keith Weiskamp

***+ Not bad. Covers TP Version 6.0

The Revolutionary Guide to Turbo Pascal/Book and 3.5 Disk by Yuri Borodich, et al

***+ Average but with some interesting MS DOS related info.

Programming often gives us a first impression that it is tedious. But Elliot really did a good thing to make it simple and more HUMAN there. Which is 21th Century demanding for!

Data Structures

Data Structures and Other Objects : A Second Course in Computer Science 

Michael Main, et al / Paperback / Published 1994

Data Structures and Problem Solving With Turbo Pascal : Walls and Mirrors  

Frank M. Carrano, et al / Hardcover / Published 1993

There is a symmetrical book of the same author using C++  Abstraction and Problem Solving With C++ Walls and Mirrors that has some reviews of the readers...

Data Structures and Program Design in Pascal 

Junk. This text invites students to extend their introductory knowledge of programming and problem solving in PASCAL. It is intended for the second course in computer programming, through the use of examples, exercises, complete programs, and sample runs, students are offered the opportunity to apply their programming skills and to learn advanced techniques.

Larry R. Nyhoff, Sanford Leestma (Contributor) / Paperback / Published 1992

Software Design and Data Structures in Turbo Pascal  

Elliot B. Koffman, et al / Paperback / Published 1994

Advanced and Reference

Turbo Pascal 7 : The Complete Reference  

Stephen K. O'Brien, et al / Paperback / Published 1993
Amazon price: $27.96 ~ You Save: $6.99 (20%)

469 Pascal Problems With Detailed Solutions/Pbn 1997

Eugene Veklerov / Paperback / Published 1985
Amazon price: $7.45 + $1.56 special surcharge (Special Order)


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