Short Code was one of the first higher-level languages ever developed for an electronic computer. Unlike machine code Short Code statements represented mathematic expressions rather than a machine instruction.
Short Code was proposed by John Mauchly in 1949 and originally known as Brief Code. William Schmitt implemented a version of Brief Code in 1949 for the BINAC computer, though it was never debugged and tested. The following year Schmitt implemented a new version of Brief Code for the Univac I where it was now known as Short Code (also Short Order Code). A revised version of Short Code was developed in 1952 for the Univac II by A. B. Tonik and J. R Logan.
While Short Code represented expressions, the representation itself was not direct and required a process of manual conversion. Elements of an expression were represented by two-character codes and then divided into 6-code groups in order to conform to the 12 byte words used by BINAC and Univac computers. For example the expression:
a = (b+c)/b*c
was converted to Short Code by a sequence of substitutions and a final regrouping:
X3 = ( X1 + Y1 ) / X1 * Y1 substitute variables
X3 03 09 X1 07 Y1 02 04 X1 Y1 substitute operators and parentheses.
Note multiplication is represented
07Y10204X1Y1 group into 12-byte words.
Along with basic arithmetic, Short Code allowed for branching and calls to a library of functions. The language was interpreted and ran about 50 times slower than machine code.