I guess I'm about as jovial as the next guy, but the jovial in refers to the computer language JOVIAL. I chose that in honor of my father, Ed Foote, who worked on the team that built the first JOVIAL compiler.

By the way, the acronym has come to mean "Jules' Own Version of IAL," but within the team it originally stood for "Just Our Version of IAL." IAL stands for "International Algorithmic Language," which was a name originally proposed for ALGOL 58.

Here's what my father has to say about JOVIAL:

I wrote the first JOVIAL interpreter using the front end of the Q31 direct code JOVIAL compiler on the 7090. After that, I stripped out the interpreter and three of us wrote a small compiler (92) to compile the JOVIAL coded 7090 compiler. We also modified the control program with all the bells and whistles needed for debugging, etc. I ran the 7090 computer for the air force acceptance test at the underground facility in Omaha, NB while Jules was the speaker. The test went beautifully.

Next, on to Jovial Timesharing (JTS), a one-pass compiler on the Q32 with many other folks. After that, I maintained JTS and added many interactive bells and whistles.

He tells me that a Q31 is the IBM military version of the Q32, but was located in the underground facility in Omaha, Nebraska. An IBM 7090 is the transistorized (!) version of the 709.

You can see an article about the project, taken from this 1967 issue of the SDC Bulletin. You can also read this 1978 article by Jules Schwartz about the language. And, here's a movie of Jules reflecting about Omaha and JOVIAL's rollout: [direct link to video]

My mother was also a computer programmer. She worked at SDC too; that's where she met my dad. She also worked on the SEAC computer before then. Here's a technical news bulletin from 1950 about SEAC.


This video shows Jules Schwartz, my dad's old boss, describing the JOVIAL project. He talks about presenting it to the Air Force brass at the underground facility in Omaha, and he even draws a parallel to Dr. Strangelove. The video is also on YouTube.

If you'd like to know more about the computer language JOVIAL, check out the USAF JOVIAL Program Office's homepage.