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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 strip ©

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 and on beer mugs (?) - and always in our heads..

a Swap T-Shirt © and a Swap mug

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

YearNameAnnual meeting in
1986Michael KalusBuchholz/Nordheide
1989Heinz SchnitterAachen
1990Jörg StabenFrankfurt
1991Klaus SchleisiekMünchen
1992Ulrike SchnitterRostock
1993Jens WilkeNürnberg
1994Jörg PleweMalente-Neukirchen
1995Friederich PrinzBerlin
1996Klaus KohlMittweida-Höfchen
1997Ulrich HoffmannLudwigshafen
1998Bernd PaysanNeukirchen-Vluyn
1999Fred BehringerOberammergau
2000Egmont WoitzelHamburg
2001Martin BitterHamminkeln-Dingden
2002Hans EckesGarmisch-Partenkirchen
2003Thomas BeierleinLambrecht
2004Ewald RiegerBurg-Staaken (Fehmarn)
2005Johannes ReilhoferKrögis bei Meißen
2006Carsten StrotmannWitten (Ruhrgebiet)
2007Anton ErtlBaden (Wien)
2008Manfred MahlowKloster Roggenburg (Ulm)
2009Stephen PelcNeuenkirchen (bei Rheine)
2010Jörg VölkerRostock-Warnemünde
2011Friedel AmendGoslar
2012Erich WäldeBeukenhof in Biezenmortel (NL)
2013Gerald WodniGarmisch-Partenkirchen
2014Willi StrickerBad Vöslau
2015Karsten RoedererHannover
2016Thomas PrinzAugsburg
2017Klaus ZobawaKalkar
2018Andrea Heil-RiegerEssen
2019Matthias KochWorms
2020Matthias Trute (posthum)Swaps Lair1)
2021Wolfgang StraußEssen2)

© 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.

In 2020 there was initially no award ceremony because meetings were prohibited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was made up for on November 14th, 2021 at the general meeting of the Forth Society, by decision of the Dragon Council, at Swaps Lair the evening before. The swap was after a year in the hereafter back in this world. And therefore this year another conference participant could be designated as a dragon bearer.
The award ceremony took place at the general meeting on November 14th, 2021, which unfortunately only took place as a video conference this year. The handover took place in person a few days later in Essen.
en/infos/drachenpreis.txt · Last modified: 2021-11-17 23:02 by mka