There's a famous 1973 keynote address entitled "Hints on Programming Language Design" given by Tony Hoare (who I'd consider to be one of those friends of Wirth) which was later published in various places including this technical report. In it, Tony finds a wonderful way of expressing just how much he respected ALGOL 60 and just how terrible he thought many of the more recent languages were. This is what he said:
The more I ponder the principles of language design, and the techniques which put them into practice, the more is my amazement and admiration of ALGOL 60. Here is a language so far ahead of its time, that it was not only an improvement on its predecessors, but also on nearly all its successors.
Now some may think that this is pure arrogance and venom and that it's no wonder that an "old fart" would say it. But it's also a very witty declaration of love for ALGOL 60. As I've been playing around with the various versions of D&D in recent years, I started feeling exactly the same way about B/X. So paraphrasing Tony Hoare, I would like to publicly state the following:
The more I ponder the principles of role-playing game design, and the mechanics which put them into practice, the more is my amazement and admiration of B/X D&D. Here is a role-playing game so clean, so concise, yet so complete, that it was not only an improvement on its predecessors, but also on nearly all its successors.
Of course I am now an "old fart" myself and I am sure many out there will find my (derivative) statement arrogant and venomous in the extreme. But it's also a (somewhat?) witty declaration of love for B/X D&D. One that I can only hope will inspire a few of you who have never looked at B/X before to actually take a peek. It's well worth it.