Modula-3 was a joint design effort during the late 1980s of two industrial computer science labs: DEC Systems Research Center and Olivetti Research. It derives from Modula-2+, an enhanced version of Niklaus Wirth's Modula-2, which in turn descends directly from Pascal. Many ideas from Modula-3 have influenced the design of Java.
The language was first defined in 1989 and revised in 1991. Except for a few minor corrections, the language definition has been stable for seven years. This has mitigated the need for an ISO standards body.
Since its inception as a research project in 1987, DEC SRC has been the home base of Modula-3 and has provided a free reference implementation. This has spun off several related efforts. Active Linux development has emerged from Ecole Polytechnic of Montréal, with influence from Cambridge University. Commercial support has been available since 1995 from Critical Mass of Cambridge, Massachusetts, which publishes Threads, a newsletter for the Modula-3 community.
Interest in Modula-3 is growing, both in industry and academia. Due to recent activity, a second revision of the language may result, incorporating such modern niceties as support for Unicode. Like Linux, Modula-3 is a powerful piece of software built and maintained by enthusiastic programmers.