On November 6th, 1986, Maurice Wilkes wrote to Niklaus Wirth proposing that the Modula-2+ language be revised and standardized as a successor to Modula-2. Wirth gave this project his blessing, and the Modula-3 committee was born.
At the first meeting, the committee unanimously agreed to be true to the spirit of Modula-2 by selecting simple, safe, proven features rather than experimenting with our own untried ideas. We found that unanimity was harder to achieve when we got to the details.
Modula-3 supports interfaces, objects, generics, lightweight threads of control, the isolation of unsafe code, garbage collection, exceptions, and subtyping. Some of the more problematical features of Modula-2 have been removed, like variant records and the built-in unsigned numeric data type. Modula-3 is substantially simpler than other languages with comparable power.
Modula-3 is closely based on Modula-2+, which was designed at the Digital Equipment Corporation Systems Research Center and used to build the Topaz system [McJones89, Rovner86]. The Modula-3 design was a joint project by Digital and Olivetti. The language definition was published in August 1988, and immediately followed by implementation efforts at both companies. In January 1989, the committee revised the language to reflect the experiences of these implementation teams. A few final revisions were made for the publication of this book.
SRC Modula-3 is distributed by the DEC Systems Research Center under a liberal license. The distribution includes a compiler for Modula-3, the Modula-3 Abstract Syntax Tree toolkit developed at Olivetti, and a runtime system with configuration files for DEC, IBM, HP, and Sun workstations.