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The 99 programming language is a special-purpose language specifically created for the 99 Bottles of Beer web site.

[NOTE: On Sun 2011-08-28 I retroactively changed the author information in all checkins. Nothing nefarious, just cleanup. If you've pulled this repository before, please pull it again.] is a collection of (as of Sat 2012-09-15) 1500 different programs in different languages, each if which prints the lyrics to the song "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall".

When I ran across this site in 2004, I realized that the existing programs were far too verbose, with their loops, subroutines, print statements, and so forth.

So I invented the 99 language.

The language definition is relatively straightforward.


  • A 99 program consists of a single text file.

  • On each line, everything from a # character to the end of the line is ignored, i.e., comments are introduced by # characters. (Unlike some other languages, # characters within character constants and string literals are not an issue.)

  • After comments are stripped, leading and trailing white space are ignored.

  • Empty lines are ignored.

  • Anything not ignored is a syntax error.


  • A syntactically valid 99 program, when executed, prints the lyrics to the song "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall".

This distribution includes a 99 interpreter "99", written in Perl 5, two sample 99 program, 99.99 and empty.99, and a sample output file, 99.99.out. The interpreter can read its input either from a file named on the command line, or from standard input if no arguments are given. The interpreter implements a language extension, permitting multiple input files to be treated as a single 99 program; this extension is not supported by the language definition, as no actual use for it has been discovered.

For your convenience, most systems already include a sample 99 program, typically called /dev/null (on Unix-like systems), NUL: (CP/M, MS-DOS and Windows), NIL: (Amiga), NL:, or NLA0: (OpenVMS).

This project was originally hosted on my Roadrunner home page, at, but Roadrunner decided to delete user home pages without notifying me.

I have received a massive number[*] of requests for a compiler for this language. I will continue to consider such requests for the forseeable future.


[*] Yes, 1 can be a massive number if you use a big enough font.

-- Keith Thompson Sat 2012-09-15


The 99 programming language



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