SNOBOL4 for Linux

I am now the maintainer of Macro SPITBOL, the most efficient implementation of SNOBOL4 to date. Mark Emmer labored for almost a quarter century as the previous maintainer, doing his best to keep SPITBOL alive, and I now have that task going forward.

Macro SPITBOL is currently available for Windows and Linux. I’m currently working on the port to Apple’s OSX, and expect to release it within a few weeks.

The Windows version of SPITBOL, the work of Mark Emmer, can be found at Google Code SPITBOL Downloads. Mark created this version. I plan no further work on it.

SPITBOL now lives at GITHUB Hardbol SPITBOL.

I put out the first release of SPITBOL for Linux in June 2012. It can be found at the Github site.

The current releases are for 32 bit words, 8 bit characters.

Once the OSX port is complete, I plan to first produce versions for Linux and OSX with 64 bit words and 8 bit characters.

The port to ARM will be next.

Along the way, I will add *full* support for Unicode.

If you are interested in SPITBOL, you can follow the Github site. I also write about my work on SPITBOL on my blog, The Wayward Word Press

You can also follow me as @daveshields at twitter.

Macro SPITBOL is licensed under the GPL license.


  1. Thomas A Naegele
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 10:46 | Permalink | Reply

    Dear Dave, I stumbled across your site, seeking Snobol for Linux. The first programming language I learned was Spitbol on the Univac 1110 series
    back in the 1970s. After, learned around 15 more languages and worked professionally as a programmer until I entered medical school when I was 28.

    I moved to Linux Mint (form of Ubuntu (am sure you know)) around 2 years ago, will not go back to MS. So, am seeking a Snobol/Spitbol interpreter/compiler for personal work. In the 90s I purchased Mark Emmer’s spitbol compiler. It did not do any GUI interfacing, but
    my need for that did not exist, as I was only parsing massive text files, for data base building. I do not know if I need it now
    either., However, GUI seem to be the thing of today. Thanks TAN

  2. David Plummer
    Posted January 27, 2014 at 19:44 | Permalink | Reply


    I found your site today, downloaded v13.05 to an Ubuntu 10.04.4 LTS machine, built it, and ran sanity-check. All appears well. Will let you know more as I fool around with Spitbol for the first time in decades. Last time I used Spitbol was in the late 70’s, doing some work on natural language processing, on an IBM system.

    Many thanks for making your work available to fossils like me (and others!).



  3. David Plummer
    Posted January 28, 2014 at 09:50 | Permalink | Reply


    I’ve been looking at some of the source code for the Spitbol compiler, and I’m amazed at the compactness of the code generator, asm.spt. It reminds me a bit of a one-pass C compiler that I maintained at Cadmus computers back in the 80’s. I re-targeted that compiler to the Motorola 68020 processor and added a peep hole optimizer at the same time. Later, that compiler got a basic block optimizer as well, with plans for a global optimizer in the works when Cadmus got sold to Apple.

    What a trip down memory lane!


  4. Walter Rutherford
    Posted March 15, 2014 at 14:41 | Permalink | Reply


    I have a Raspberry Pi computer and, while playing around learning python, remembered the Snobol I learned in college. I was impressed with its string handling ability, something which could be done in other languages but with uuuugly code.
    it appears you were/are working on a port of Snobol for ARM computers. How’s that going?

    Thanks for your effort keeping Snobol alive.


    • Posted March 20, 2014 at 09:28 | Permalink | Reply


      I’m not working on the port to ARM.

      However, I am doing a port using the Go language (golang). One reason I’m doing this — aside from the fun of it — is that this should work on ARM.


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