Steelman language requirements

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The Steelman language requirements were a set of requirements which a high-level general-purpose programming language should meet, created by the United States Department of Defense in The Department of Defense Common High Order Language program in 1978. The predecessors of this document were called, in order, "Strawman", "Woodenman", "Tinman" and "Ironman".

The requirements focussed on the needs of embedded computer applications, and emphasised reliability, maintainability, and efficiency. Notably, they included exception handling facilities, run-time error checking, and parallel computing.

It was concluded that no existing language met these criteria to a sufficient extent, so a contest was called to create a language that would be closer to fulfilling them. The design that won this contest became the Ada programming language.

The resulting language followed the Steelman requirements closely, though not exactly. It included support for generic programming as a significant extension not envisaged in the requirements.

The Ada 95 revision of the language went beyond the Steelman requirements, targeting general-purpose systems in addition to embedded ones, and adding features supporting object-oriented programming.

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