Pascal is an imperative and procedural programming language, designed by Niklaus Wirth as a small, efficient language intended to encourage good programming practices using structured programming and data structuring. It is named in honour of the French mathematician, philosopher and physicist Blaise Pascal.
Based on Wirth's book Algorithms + Data Structures = Programs, Pascal was developed on the pattern of the ALGOL 60 language. Wirth was involved in the process to improve the language as part of the ALGOL X efforts and proposed a version named ALGOL W. This was not accepted, and the ALGOL X process bogged down. In 1968, Wirth decided to abandon the ALGOL X process and further improve ALGOL W, releasing this as Pascal in 1970.
On top of ALGOL's scalars and arrays, Pascal enables defining complex datatypes and building dynamic and recursive data structures such as lists, trees and graphs. Pascal has strong typing on all objects, which means that one type of data cannot be converted to or interpreted as another without explicit conversions. Unlike C (and most languages in the C-family), Pascal allows nested procedure definitions to any level of depth, and also allows most kinds of definitions and declarations inside subroutines (procedures and functions). A program is thus syntactically similar to a single procedure or function. This is similar to the block structure of ALGOL 60, but restricted from arbitrary block statements to just procedures and functions.
Pascal became very successful in the 1970s, notably on the burgeoning minicomputer market. Compilers were also available for many microcomputers as the field emerged in the late 1970s. It was widely used as a teaching language in university-level programming courses in the 1980s, and also used in production settings for writing commercial software during the same period. It was displaced by the C programming language during the late 1980s and early 1990s as UNIX-based systems became popular, and especially with the release of C++.
A derivative named Object Pascal designed for object-oriented programming was developed in 1985. This was used by Apple Computer and Borland in the late 1980s and later developed into Delphi on the Microsoft Windows platform. Extensions to the Pascal concepts led to the languages Modula-2 and Oberon.