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In the summer of 1981, the Institute for Defense Analysis arranged a workshop to initiate the development of requirements for a modern hardware description language. Much effort has since been expended developing those requirements and implementing a VHSIC hardware description language (or VHDL). VHSIC is a Department of Defense program dealing with very high speed integrated circuits. One part of this effort analyzed existing languages and their environments, extracting major advantages of each. This analysis sought to ensure that no current hardware description language capabilities had been overlooked in developing VHDL. We will present the features needed in a modern hardware description language, and describe eight hardware description languagesÂ¿examining each to determine its features. We will also analyze VHDL with respect to the language features described.