For questions about the history of programming and computing.

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19
votes
6answers
3k views

What made BASIC profitable? [closed]

In the 1970s, a man called Bill Gates developed an interpreter for BASIC: the Altair BASIC. Per my understanding, he was able to persuade the guy in charge of a microcomputer company to include the ...
0
votes
1answer
60 views

How did the “abnormal” options in shell commands appear?

These options which obscure me are like ps aux, route -ee, gcc -fPIC xxx, find . -name xxx and so on. The examples above aren't comprehensive. I.e., I don't think that the argument handle ...
7
votes
2answers
149 views

What are the origins of the Public/Private function declarations?

The Question What are the origins of the Public/Private function paradigm? Background A question came up in chat about Header files in C, and their usage being mainly to help the compiler, not the ...
1
vote
3answers
316 views

Why did the Sun engineers decided to make Java only call by value? [closed]

Is there any specific reason they decided to go with Call by value? Is it for simplicity?
2
votes
2answers
138 views

Can the Jacquard loom be considered stateless?

Can the Jacquard loom, pictured below complete with its chains of paper cards be considered stateless? As far as I can tell I can tell, each operation is not dependant on the previous. Or did it ...
25
votes
3answers
1k views

Why does the boolean type in C++ support `++` but not `--`?

Why does the operator -- not exist for bool whereas it does for operator ++? I tried in C++, and I do not know if my question apply to another language. I will glad to know also. I know, I can use ...
5
votes
3answers
371 views

Is there a web-specific reason for the design choices behind the JavaScript language?

With the advent of "the web is the platform", JavaScript is fast becoming the most widely used programming language in the world. However, many tasks that are easy to accomplish in other modern ...
5
votes
2answers
184 views

Is Lisp the first language to adopt structured programming?

I couldn't find any links or books claiming that Lisp is the first programming language to adopt structured programming (actually, most of them don't even mention Lisp at all), but if conditionals ...
-1
votes
4answers
241 views

(Is there | Why isn't there) a programming language that allows 'inline' arguments to a function? [duplicate]

What is the reason for 'trailing' arguments to functions in most programming languages? That is, we do something like this: def subtract(x, y): return x - y subtract(10, 5) ...rather than the ...
4
votes
1answer
179 views

What is the historical reason why Python uses the double underscore for Class Private members

In python a module private function or variable is named _foo. If it is private to a class it is names __foo, The mechanics behind how these work are different, however that is of little relevance to ...
11
votes
1answer
593 views

Why is the Unix linker called “ld”

Tried to search the web and couldn't find an answer. It might have something to do with "load", but that doesn't make much sense to me. Obviously, "ln" was already taken, but where does that "d" come ...
-1
votes
5answers
178 views

Is there a history behind the placement of code block markers? [closed]

When I started learning programming, I noticed that everybody (lecturers, authors, brainwashed fellow students, et cetera) placed code block markers in the following way: if(userIsBest==true){ ...
12
votes
3answers
593 views

Why is the copying instruction usually named MOV?

In quite many assemblers, a value copying instruction is usually named "MOV" and its description in manuals usually also contains "move" (however, other words can be used, like "load", "store", ...
24
votes
5answers
2k views

Why doesn't Java 8 include immutable collections?

The Java team has done a ton of great work removing barriers to functional programming in Java 8. In particular, the changes to the java.util Collections do a great job of chaining transformations ...
2
votes
2answers
205 views

When did current source control management emerge? [duplicate]

The use of source control management tools is nowadays a standard practice in the software industry. Furthermore, it seems that there is quite a strong consensus (for deliverables) to have an ...
0
votes
1answer
187 views

Where does the tradition of shell prompts in code snippets come from?

Most code samples I see that demonstrate shell code preface each command with $. Having a prefix makes sense, but I'm confused as to why $ is used in particular. Some other symbol, like !, that can be ...
1
vote
2answers
137 views

history and application areas of 'pull'/'push' programming paradigm

Recently reading a lot materials on Reactive Programming, one thing frequently mentioned is the 'PUSH' versus 'PULL' style of application. Event driven ( Reactive programming ) Some of the authors ...
25
votes
1answer
900 views

The Inglish parser (for The Hobbit 1982)

Was fascinated to read about the text adventure game The Hobbit which featured an incredibly robust parser called "Inglish": ...Inglish allowed one to type advanced sentences such as "ask Gandalf ...
1
vote
3answers
198 views

History of vendor css prefix

When and how did this process of prefixing css with vendor specific prefix begin. Which browser/org start this and why was this started. I searched the web but found no details on this.
1
vote
5answers
361 views

What is the advantage to using a factor of 1024 instead of 1000 for disk size units?

When considering the disk space of a storage medium, normally the computer or operating system will represent it in terms of powers of 1024 - a kilobyte is 1,024 bytes, a megabyte is 1,048,576 bytes, ...
5
votes
2answers
415 views

Earliest use of Comments as Semantically Meaningful Things in a Program?

In certain corners of the PHP meta-programming world, it's become fashionable to use PHPDoc comments as a mechanism for providing semantically meaningful information to a program. That is, other code ...
6
votes
1answer
223 views

The Lisp in Gnu

Since the GNU project is celebrating its anniversary, and the initial announcement for GNU is linked to (http://www.gnu.org/gnu/initial-announcement.en.html) all over the place, I reread it and I ...
5
votes
3answers
250 views

Writing a bootloader with no bootloader

I have a question that I really can't find a straight answer to. Let me start by saying I'm not asking for a step by step tutorial, or even plan on doing anything. I'm just curious. I've been ...
1
vote
0answers
141 views

Who invented the otpauth:// URI scheme?

It seems really simple, but who invented the commonly-used otpauth:// scheme (used by Google Authenticator and other TOTP soft tokens by scanning QR codes)? When?
1
vote
1answer
474 views

Why was F# created?

For my current class, I have to pick and research a Programming Language (or popular scripting language) and answer quite a few questions about it, write a paper, and do some example programs ...
20
votes
2answers
1k views

When did the term “snake case” come into use?

Many people use the term Snake Case to describe variables or other symbols with_the_form_of_underscores. When did this term enter into use?
12
votes
4answers
649 views

Why is mod (%) a fundamental mathematical operator in many programming languages?

Is there a reason, historical or otherwise, why the modulus operator is part of a small set of standard operators in what seems like many languages? (+, -, *, / and %, for Java and C, with ** in Ruby ...
7
votes
1answer
376 views

Origin of common list-processing function names

Some higher-order functions for operating on lists or arrays have been repeatedly adopted or reinvented. The functions map, fold[l|r], and filter are found together in several programming ...
37
votes
3answers
4k views

Why can't `main` return a double or String rather than int or void?

In many languages such as C, C++, and Java, the main method/function has a return type of void or int, but not double or String. What might be the reasons behind that? I know a little bit that we ...
6
votes
3answers
691 views

Why is Quicksort called “Quicksort”?

The point of this question is not to debate the merits of this over any other sorting algorithm - certainly there are many other questions that do this. This question is about the name. Why is ...
12
votes
1answer
510 views

What did network programs use to communicate before sockets was invented (around 1983?)

Sockets were invented in Berkeley around 1983, but how did networked computer programs work before this? These days, pretty much everything uses sockets, so it's hard for me to imagine how else ...
-1
votes
2answers
212 views

What is the origin/meaning of the name 'NHibernate'?

Been poking around the web because I was curious as to why they called it that but haven't found anything yet. Anyone know? (I checked the FAQ and it wasn't clear if questions on history/origins were ...
22
votes
7answers
2k views

What were the Design Patterns of the procedural programming era? [closed]

Similar: How was programming done 20 years ago? OOP is quite fashionable nowadays, having its roots in Simula 67 in the 1960s, and later made popular by Smalltalk and C++. We have DRY, SOLID, many ...
6
votes
4answers
286 views

When did the first “REST”-model and friendly URL web technology come to be?

Everyone knows that the "current" way to do things is to have user-readable URLs. Like: http://example.com/blog/edit/1234 Rather than: http://example.com/blog.php?action=edit&id=1234 When ...
34
votes
6answers
2k views

Why was strict parsing not chosen for HTML?

I am pretty much unaware about the detailed computing history that surrounds internet but it has always made me think why strict parsing was not chosen when creating HTML. Browsers accept any rubbish ...
55
votes
13answers
8k views

Why is 0 false?

This question may sound dumb, but why does 0 evaluates to false and any other [integer] value to true is most of programming languages? String comparison Since the question seems a little bit too ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Whatever happened to Pascal? [duplicate]

In reading this blog post about Photoshop 1.0 I was surprised to learn that it was written in Pascal (Object Pascal to be exact). But you never hear about Pascal anymore. Why is that?
2
votes
2answers
211 views

Origin of the name “OpenServer” for the SCO Unix operating system

I was looking over the evolutionary history of Unix and Unix-like systems on Wikipedia and one operating system name stood out to me: OpenServer. Judging from the image, SCO's OpenServer is ...
17
votes
3answers
2k views

Where did the convention of naming command line arguments as 'argv' come from?

It seems like Python, PHP, and Ruby all use the name "argv" to refer to the list of command line arguments. Where does the name "argv" come from? Why not something like "args"? My guess is that it ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

Was C designed to facilitate Object-Oriented programming?

I am trying to broaden my understanding of the history and development of object-oriented programming, and I am curious to find out if C was designed to facilitate Object-Oriented programming? (like ...
19
votes
5answers
1k views

How did they debug segmentation faults before protected memory?

Now, when I make a programming mistake with pointers in C, I get a nice segmentation fault, my program crashes and the debugger can even tell me where it went wrong. How did they do that in the time ...
3
votes
2answers
278 views

How did the term “hypervisor” come into use?

I've read about the "hypervisor" in hardware virtualization. VMs are not my area, so I can't quite see where the term came from. THe wikipedia article talks about how "the hardware's supervisor ...
8
votes
2answers
5k views

Why is C so high in TIOBE index of popularity, while C++ is just under here too, but not as popular? [closed]

I can't get my head around this. If C is so much used, but C is not C++, can someone explain to me the most important reasons that makes C more used than C++ ? Where is all this C code written for ? ...
11
votes
5answers
1k views

In what programming language did “let” first appear?

I was wondering about the origins of the "let" used in Lisp, Clojure, and Haskell. Does anyone know which language it appeared in first?
2
votes
1answer
199 views

Why did Aiken decided to separate data and instructions in the Harvard Mark I?

When Aiken devised the Mark I, why did he decided to separate data and instructions? It was not mentioned in Wikipedia (or in any other searches I've looked) on how or why Aiken separated data and ...
2
votes
1answer
217 views

Is there genetic relationship between ARM and PDP-11 architectures?

Reading about ARM architecture I found many similarities to PDP-11 architecture which did not exist between ARM and x86. For example, General-purpose registers named Rx compared to AX, BX,... for ...
64
votes
8answers
27k views

Why did Alan Kay say, “The Internet was so well done, but the web was by amateurs”?

OK, so I paraphrased. The full quote: The Internet was done so well that most people think of it as a natural resource like the Pacific Ocean, rather than something that was man-made. When was the ...
19
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is Java boolean primitive type name not 'bool'?

Java has int and Integer boolean and Boolean This seems a bit inconsistent, why not either bool vs Boolean to use an established shorter name for primitive type? or integer vs Integer to ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

Object-Oriented Programming: Why “Oriented”?

I am most of the way through my games programming degree. This is not a computer science degree, so a lot of the theory is eschewed in favour of practical portfolio building and what I see as JIT ...
2
votes
2answers
391 views

I need some help with defining a shell syntax

I'm trying to understand more about shells. I'm looking to implement one and want to look at what's been done in the past. In a regular shell, you have features like aliases and relative paths, and ...