Al Rose

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Allen J. Rose was an APL educator at IBM, and later a co-founder and vice president of STSC. He was the 1988 recipient of the Iverson Award.

Rose was noted for his ability to demonstrate APL using an IBM 2741 terminal, including in a verse of APL Blossom Time which descibes it as "an old, bent, beat-up 2741". The terminal weighed 120 pounds and had been distributed into two custom suitcases for portability.[1][2] It connected to an APL\360 installation by phone line, but when Rose was unable to connect he used a cassette tape recorded from the terminal's acoustic coupler to play back an earlier demo.[3]

While employed at STSC, Rose demonstrated the shared filesystem implemented by IPSA's Larry Breed and Eric Iverson at APL70.[4]

Al Rose was one of the best stage acts I can remember. I attended a gig of his somewhere in London in the early ’70s. Al had an IBM golf-ball APL terminal. As a finale, he said, “I have The Book of Psalms here — what do you want to know?” There was a long pause, until someone in the audience asked, “Which word occurs most often?”

Al put his head down and thought for around a minute (which is a very, very long time when you’re on stage). Then he typed in a fairly long APL expression. There was a pause. Then the typewriter started clattering out a list of the unique words and their counts in order of frequency. It brought the house down.

The best thing about the experience was the look on the FORTRAN programmers’ faces :-)

John Scholes[5][6]


  1. Jacob Brickmann. 2017 APL Implementers Workshop, Minnowbrook. 2018-02-10.
  2. Roger Hui. Ken Iverson Quotations and Anecdotes, "Skyliner" quoting Roger Moore. 2005-09-30.
  3. Jim Brown. A Personal History of APL. Updated 2017-04-05.
  4. Korn, Karl. "APL Community Meets at NASA". APL Quote-Quad Vol. 2, No. 2. 1970-07-10.
  5. Roger Hui. APL Quotations and Anecdotes, "Al Rose".
  6. Roger Hui. an exercise in archæological algorithmic analysis. 2020-04-12.

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