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1965 - Kemeny and Kurtz go to 1964
May 8, 2009 3:21 PM   Subscribe

A Brief, Incomplete, and Mostly Wrong History of Programming Languages
posted by Artw (47 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite

 
1964 - John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz create BASIC, an unstructured programming language for non-computer scientists.

1965 - Kemeny and Kurtz go to 1964.


Nice.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:27 PM on May 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


I nearly spat on my monitor when I read that BASIC line. It's all pretty clever.
posted by GuyZero at 3:32 PM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


1972 - Dennis Ritchie invents a powerful gun that shoots both forward and backward simultaneously. Not satisfied with the number of deaths and permanent maimings from that invention he invents C and Unix.

It's all pretty funny, thanks for the post.
posted by kisch mokusch at 3:36 PM on May 8, 2009


It is a syntax error to write FORTRAN while not wearing a blue tie.
posted by troybob at 3:41 PM on May 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


1972 was a near-spew moment, because it makes so much more sense than reality.

As does

1987 - Larry Wall falls asleep and hits Larry Wall's forehead on the keyboard. Upon waking Larry Wall decides that the string of characters on Larry Wall's monitor isn't random but an example program in a programming language that God wants His prophet, Larry Wall, to design. Perl is born.
posted by eriko at 3:43 PM on May 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'm pretty sure Reg Ex was invented that way.
posted by Artw at 3:46 PM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Only the last line of the Javascript history is inaccurate.
posted by CaseyB at 3:52 PM on May 8, 2009


[self laughterAt:objectiveCCreatorsLastNames
withMentalAge:NSMentalAgeAdolescentStyle];
posted by Halle at 3:54 PM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hey, we have jQuery now. Screw you haters!
posted by Artw at 3:54 PM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


...and at least it isn't objective C. Sorry Halle. -shudder-
posted by Artw at 3:55 PM on May 8, 2009


1940s - Various "computers" are "programmed" using direct wiring and switches. Engineers do this in order to avoid the tabs vs spaces debate.

Comedy gold, that is. I was expecting to read an attempt at humor written by some guy who thinks he is funny. I was right, but the surprise is, so is he!
posted by FishBike at 4:07 PM on May 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


It was very funny. 1972 was beautiful, but I also got a quiet kick out of "Until you reach turtles."
posted by Halle at 4:13 PM on May 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


Generally very, very good, which is unusual for this type of satire on the tubes. I'm convinced that the perl story is utterly true, as is the one about Python, but only if you conjecture that the scar stems from experimental (but miraculously effective) brain enhancement surgery.
posted by Dysk at 4:37 PM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


that was pure genius. i loled hard at his explanation of
SmallTalk and Python. right on target!
posted by liza at 4:40 PM on May 8, 2009


Nice. Still, mentioning monads and not punning on Church and state? Pity. (And I actually first heard that pun from Phil Wadler in a talk of his around '95 I think!)
posted by Iosephus at 4:41 PM on May 8, 2009


It is a syntax error to write FORTRAN while not wearing a blue tie.

Yes.
posted by DU at 4:46 PM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


1958 - John McCarthy and Paul Graham invent LISP.

HA!

1970 - Guy Steele and Gerald Sussman create Scheme. Their work leads to a series of "Lambda the Ultimate" papers culminating in "Lambda the Ultimate Kitchen Utensil." This paper becomes the basis for a long running, but ultimately unsuccessful run of late night infomercials. Lambdas are relegated to relative obscurity until Java makes them popular by not having them.

Is this year correct? Because it would mean Guy was a sophomore in high school when he co-invented Scheme.

Also, Java is about to get closures (aka "functions as primitive variables"). Lambdas can't be far off.
posted by A dead Quaker at 4:50 PM on May 8, 2009


It's wrong imprecise, but it's definitely not wrong inaccurate.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:54 PM on May 8, 2009


The last thing we need is for Java to get more powerful.

Also, I wish I hadn't read that, because now I have to get back into both Haskell and Scheme, as well as add another website to my daily rounds.
posted by DU at 4:54 PM on May 8, 2009


The last thing we need is for Java to get more powerful.

1936: Alan Turning invents every programming language but only trademarks PL/1(tm).
posted by GuyZero at 4:57 PM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Two really horrible puns in the comments:

"Jacquard's loom wasn't concurrent? It was pretty thoroughly multithreaded, I'd have thought!"

"Unfortunately, the plug-boards vs. switches war of the early 40's was bloody and long. Some say it led to the development of the bombe."
posted by spiderwire at 5:01 PM on May 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


1936: Alan Turing invents every programming language but doesn't know when to stop.
posted by spiderwire at 5:09 PM on May 8, 2009 [25 favorites]


Disappointingly the Apple logo most likely isn't a tribute to Turing.
posted by Artw at 5:14 PM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Jacquard's loom wasn't concurrent? It was pretty thoroughly multithreaded.

If I wasn't such a geek... If I wasn't trapped in an airport right now... You are all going to get me in trouble with TSA as I laugh like a maniac...
posted by Avelwood at 5:15 PM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


1936: Alan Turing invents every programming language but doesn't know when to stophalt.
posted by DU at 5:18 PM on May 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


1986 - Brad Cox and Tom Love create Objective-C, announcing "this language has all the memory safety of C combined with all the blazing speed of Smalltalk." Modern historians suspect the two were dyslexic.

Too funny ; )
posted by coust at 5:35 PM on May 8, 2009


"look, it's all objects all the way down. Until you reach turtles."

And that's where Logo came from.
posted by moonmilk at 5:41 PM on May 8, 2009 [11 favorites]


1936: Alan Turing invents every programming language but doesn't know when to halt.

Damnit, making the joke accessible misses the point!
posted by spiderwire at 5:42 PM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Funny because it's true. Or at least it should be.
posted by tommasz at 6:22 PM on May 8, 2009


Also, Java is about to get closures (aka "functions as primitive variables"). Lambdas can't be far off.

Actually I think they've been moved out of Java 7.
posted by delmoi at 6:25 PM on May 8, 2009


This must be the feeling other people get when I talk about science fiction.
posted by Justinian at 6:30 PM on May 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


1936: Alan Turning invents every programming language but only trademarks PL/1(tm).

Thank you for that, I was feeling marginalized and irrelevant since my birth tongue was not mentioned.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:52 PM on May 8, 2009


Incomplete indeed:
Larry Wall falls asleep and hits Larry Wall's forehead on the keyboard. Upon waking Larry Wall decides that the string of characters on Larry Wall's monitor isn't random but an example program in a programming language that God wants His prophet, Larry Wall, to design. Perl is born.

This is just what Larry told his boss who caught him sleeping on the job. With his job on the line, he set about writing a compiler for the language he called "perl". When this turned out to be a significant undertaking, he decided to write an interpreter instead. Amazingly, his boss was unable to tell the difference and Larry kept his job as a result. This largely untold story is the ultimate inspiration for Larry's views on programmer virtues: Laziness, Impatience and Hubris.

Over the years Larry decided to continue perl as a running gag, to see how many people he can trick into writing or worse, maintaining, programs written in it's incomprehensible syntax. To that end he announced Perl 6, just to give the illusion of hope to people who might have otherwise wizened up.

Oh what tangled webs we weave...
posted by pwnguin at 7:16 PM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've always been convinced that perl makes much more sense as a sociology project.
posted by eriko at 7:29 PM on May 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


This must be the feeling other people get when I talk about science fiction.

Same here. Or zombie movies. I have the feeling this is really, really funny, but I barely get any of it. Except for the FORTRAN/ties line, which had me laughing out loud.
posted by brundlefly at 8:42 PM on May 8, 2009


I &heart; perl jokes.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:58 PM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I &heart; perl jokes.

There's more than one way to screw it up.
posted by eriko at 9:46 PM on May 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


I make an effort to avoid perl. It would all just end in tears.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:25 PM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Years later, in a misguided and sexist retaliation against Adm. Hopper's COBOL work, Ruby conferences frequently feature misogynistic material.

Ha.
posted by dhartung at 11:10 PM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


You fucking nerds.
posted by m-a-s-o-n at 12:06 AM on May 9, 2009


Larry Wall falls asleep and hits $_ forehead on STDIN. Upon package Net::Wake $_ decides that =~ /.*/ on $_ monitor isn't rand() but an example program in a programming language that God::prophet wants $_ , to design. Perl is born. Bless.
posted by Sparx at 2:33 AM on May 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


On a funny but sad note, there's a significant number commenters on the original article who congratulate the author but then complain their favorite language has been excluded or incorrectly represented. Which will appear in some future dictionary as an example under the entry "missing the point".
posted by outlier at 3:36 AM on May 9, 2009


1995 - PHP, originally designed as a template library for Perl is rewritten in C and hate.
2000 - PHP, requiring a template library, spawns Smarty. The circle of life is complete.
posted by Skorgu at 6:58 AM on May 9, 2009 [8 favorites]


My night has been made, again. This is so much better than I expected.
posted by Songdog at 8:34 PM on May 9, 2009


The DHH edit needs the word "Fuck" adding to it.

But otherwise, that was awesome.
posted by iSeanyboy at 11:55 AM on May 10, 2009


1936: Alan Turing invents every programming language but doesn't know when to stop.

Much better punchline. Excellent.
posted by GuyZero at 10:26 AM on May 11, 2009


Agile Hitler is possibly the funniest thing I have ever seen, though possibly I have just been on this fucking project too long.
posted by Artw at 1:52 PM on May 19, 2009


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