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TRAC (programming language)

TRAC (for Text Reckoning And Compiling) Language is a programming language developed between 1959-1964 by Calvin Mooers and implemented on a PDP-10 in 1964 by L. Peter Deutsch. It was one of three "first languages" recommended by Ted Nelson in Computer Lib. TRAC T64 was used until 1984, when Mooers updated it to TRAC T84.

TRAC is a purely text-based language—a kind of macro language. Unlike traditional ad hoc macro languages of the time, such as those found in assemblers, TRAC is well planned, consistent, and in many senses complete. It has explicit input and output operators, unlike the typical implicit I/O at the outermost macro level, which makes it simultaneously simpler and more versatile than older macro languages.

It also differs from traditional macro languages in that TRAC numbers are strings of digits, with integer arithmetic (without specific limits on maximum values) being provided through built-in ("primitive") functions. Arguably, one aspect of its completeness is that the concept of error is limited to events like lack of file space and requesting expansion of a string longer than the interpreter's working storage; what would in many languages be described as illegal operations are dealt with in TRAC by defining a result (often a null string) for every possible combination of a function's argument strings.

The emphasis on strings as strings is so strong that TRAC provides mechanisms for handling the language's own syntactic characters either in their syntactic roles or like any other character, and self-modifying code has more the feel of a natural consequence of typical TRAC programming techniques than of being a special feature.

TRAC is, like APL or LISP, an expression oriented language (in contrast to more typical procedure-oriented languages), but unlike APL, it completely lacks operators. In most respects, it is a case of pure functional programming.

TRAC has in common with LISP a syntax that generally involves the presence of many levels of nested parentheses.

Mooers trademarked the name TRAC in an effort to maintain his control over the definition of the language, an unusual and pioneering action at the time. At one point, he brought an intellectual property infringement suit against DEC, alleging that a contract to deliver a mini-computer with a TRAC interpreter violated his rights. "The first issue of Dr. Dobb's Journal, one of the early publications in the personal computer field, has a vitriolic editorial against Mooers and his rapacity in trying to charge people for his computing language." However, the trademark (#72301892) expired in 1992. The name has since been used several times for unrelated information technology projects, including a current open source project management system called Trac.

There have been various languages inspired by TRAC. To avoid any trouble with Mooers, they renamed primitives and/or used different metacharacters. In SAM76's case, primitives were added, according to Claude Kagan, "because TRAC is baby talk". In MINT's case, primitives were added to give access to a sophisticated text editor machinery.

  • one perceived shortcoming of TRAC was lack of full extensibility: some TRAC primitive functions are sensitive to the distinction between a null (zero-character) argument and a nonexistent (non-delimited) one, but beyond its last non-null argument, a user-defined function cannot make the distinction. SAM76 was a TRAC-like language which eliminated that limitation.
  • Russ Nelson implemented an emacs extension language named MINT (MINT Is Not TRAC). This language is used by the FreeDOS editor FreeMACS.

TRAC was used by FTP Software in its PC/TCP product as the modem dialler scripting language.

TRAC was also used as a front end on Digital Productions Cray renderer for films, including The Last Starfighter.


Trac is an open source, Web-based project management and bug tracking system. The program is inspired by CVSTrac, and was originally named svntrac due to its ability to interface with Subversion. It is developed and maintained by Edgewall Software.

Trac is written in the Python programming language. Until mid-2005, it was available under the GNU General Public License; since version 0.9, it has been released under a modified BSD license.

TRAC (disambiguation)

Trac is a software tool for project management.

Trac or TRAC may also refer to:

  • TRAC (programming language), a string-oriented programming language
  • Tuition Reform Action Coalition, a student advocacy group
  • Telsiz ve Radyo Amatörleri Cemiyeti, an amateur radio organization in Turkey
  • Team Racing Auto Circuit, a defunct auto racing series
  • United States Army Training and Doctrine Command Analysis Center, an analysis agency that conducts research on potential military operations worldwide
  • Trustworthy Repositories Audit & Certification, an initiative to certify data repositories
  • Three Rivers Athletic Conference, an Ohio high school athletic conference
  • Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, a research center
  • trac: Music Traditions Wales, the folk development organisation for Wales

Usage examples of "trac".

Nine years back the mysterious raiders, known simply as the Tracs, had staged an attack and destroyed several colonies.

The tracs kept clear of these, lurching and growling and floundering on.

If the expedition had only waited several days before sending out men in tracs, it might have seen the dekapeds and investigated.

Three big trac land--together they were as large as a fair-sized comr i 1, wealth--one in the Rockies, one on the plains, and ox the northwest woods, gave wild sims and their way of I last stronghold in the FCA.