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We could go back farther with Sutherland's SketchPad (early 60s) and Smith's Pygmalion (mid 70s).

There are also a lot of disparate visual programming paradigms that are all classed under "visual", I guess in the same way that both Haskell and Java are "textual". It makes for a weird debate when one party in a conversation is thinking about patch/wire dataflow languages as the primary VPLs (e.g. QuartzComposer) and the other one is thinking about procedural block languages (e.g. Scratch) as the primary VPLs.

Absolutely, their important work foreshadowed and inspired so much great stuff. Also Douglas Engelbart's NLS pioneered many of the ideas of visual programming.

I think spreadsheets also qualify as visual programming languages, because they're two-dimensional and grid based in a way that one-dimensional textual programming languages aren't.

The grid enables them to use relative and absolute 2D addressing, so you can copy and paste formulae between cells, so they're reusable and relocatable. And you can enter addresses and operands by pointing and clicking and dragging, instead of (or as well as) typing text.

Some people mistakenly assume visual programming languages necessarily don't use text, or that they must use icons and wires, so they don't consider spreadsheets to be visual programming languages.

Spreadsheets are a wildly successful (and extremely popular) example of a visual programming language that doesn't forsake all the advantages of text based languages, but builds on top of them instead.

And their widespread use and success disproves the theory that visual programming languages are esoteric or obscure or not as powerful as text based languages.

Other more esoteric, graphical, grid-based visual programming languages include cellular automata (which von Neumann explored), and more recently "robust first computing" architectures like the Moveable Feast Machine.



Robust-first Computing: Distributed City Generation (Moveable Feast)


>A rough video demo of Trent R. Small's procedural city generation dynamics in the Movable Feast Machine simulator. See http://nm8.us/q for more information. Apologies for the poor audio!

Programming the Movable Feast Machine with λ-Codons


>λ-Codons provide a mechanism for describing arbitrary computations in the Movable Feast Machine (MFM). A collection of λ-Codon molecules describe the computation by a series of primitive functions. Evaluator particles carry along a stack of memory (which initially contains the input to the program) and visit the λ-Codons, which they interpret as functions and apply to their stacks. When the program completes, they transmute into output particles and carry the answer to the output terminals (left).

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