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The Swap Dragon Award

Der Drachenpreis

[Swap's portrait] ©

Every year the Forth Society e.V. honours an outstanding personality for his/her Forth activities. Started in 1986 as a plastic toy trophy, the SWAP-Dragon has been reborn in 1997 as a beautiful bronze sculpture.

How it all began

When the programming language Forth became publically available in the early 80s, the book Starting Forth by Leo Brodie, formerly Forth Inc., was one of the sources for beginners. It became very popular not only because of the entertaining text but also because the insightful images, that described the different system components and operators as comic figures. To explain the operator SWAP Leo Brodie used a little two-headed dragon, which is today known as the SWAP-Dragon. Below is the original comic from the first edition of Starting Forth that allowed so many of us to understand, what SWAP was supposed to do:

[original Swap comic

The word SWAP is defined to swich the order of the top two stack items. As with the other stack manipulation operators, you can test SWAP at your terminal in "calculator style"; that is, it doesn't have to be contained in a definition. - Leo Brodie in Starting Forth 1st ed, p. 44

But this is not the only reference to SWAP in Starting Forth. When SWAP sees the operator ROT, which exchanges the upper three entries of the data stack, he shivered over so much complexity:

[Swap and Rot] ©


The SWAP becomes the unofficial mascot of the FORTH society

Sometimes he appears on Forth-Shirts
[a Swap T-Shirt] ©
and on beer mugs (?)
[a Swap mug plan]
and always in our heads..


1986 – A prize is born

On its second yearly conference the FORTH society initiated the SWAP-Dragon prize, with which Michael Kalus was honoured for his enormous work in the early days of the Vierten Dimension, the member journal of the FORTH society. When he was presented with a little two-headed toy dragon, he was so impressed that he declared:

When this all lasts for 10 years, I will donate one made from bronze.

Although it is still unclear, what he meant with this all, it did last for more than 10 years and there are still witnesses for this amongst us.

The plastic SWAP dragon had a notable property. It smelled surprisingly of strawberries! Unfortunately we cannot show that here. (So much for multimedia :-) Here a photo of the plastic trophy:

[a picture of the plastic Swap]


The Dragon council

Then it was realized, that it is a full task to find a person to honour – the Dragon council, consisting out of all former prize recipients was formed. They meet every year during the annual meeting of the FORTH society and deliberate over a new member to bestow the honour on. Last year’s prize winner has to contribute at least 3 serious suggestions.


The SWAP Dragon bronze sculpture

When it became clear that what was meant with this all, must be older than ten years, the work on a bronze sculpture began. Rolf Kretzschmar, former editor of Vierte Dimension and sculptor, created a wonderful SWAP dragon sculpture, that happily bites into the upper stack entry. Here a photo of the SWAP dragon in bronze:

 [a picture of The Swap
Bronze] ©


The winners of the award

Custodian of the SWAP Dragon
Year Name Annual meeting in
1986 Michael Kalus Buchholz/Nordheide
1989 Heinz Schnitter Aachen
1990 Jörg Staben Frankfurt
1991 Klaus Schleisiek München
1992 Ulrike Schnitter Rostock
1993 Jens Wilke Nürnberg
1994 Jörg Plewe Malente-Neukirchen
1995 Friederich Prinz Berlin
1996 Klaus Kohl Mittweida-Höfchen
1997 Ulrich Hoffmann Ludwigshafen
1998 Bernd Paysan Neukirchen-Vluyn
1999 Fred Behringer Oberammergau
2000 Egmont Woitzel Hamburg
2001 Martin Bitter Hamminkeln-Dingden
2002 Hans Eckes Garmisch-Partenkirchen
2003 Thomas Beierlein Lambrecht
2004 Ewald Rieger Burg-Staaken (Fehmarn)
2005 Johannes Reilhofer Krögis bei Meißen
2006 Carsten Strotmann Witten (Ruhrgebiet)
2007 Anton Ertl Baden (Wien)
2008 Manfred Mahlow Kloster Roggenburg (Ulm)
2009 Stephen Pelc Neuenkirchen (bei Rheine)
2010 Jörg Völker Rostock-Warnemünde
2011 Friedel Amend Goslar
2012 Erich Wälde Beukenhof in Biezenmortel (NL)
2013 Gerald Wodni Garmisch-Partenkirchen
2014 Willi Stricker Bad Vöslau

© The Swap drawing and other drawings from Leo Brodie's Starting Forth are copyrighted by Forth, Inc.
© The Swap Bronze is an artwork done by Rolf Kretzschmar.
© The Forth-Shirt is an artwork done by Heinz Schnitter.
English translation by Sabine Bodzian.

Letzte Änderung Sonntag, 12. Mai 2019 @ 17:33 CEST; 24.001 Abrufe Druckfähige Version anzeigen