For questions about the history of programming and computing.

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256
votes
4answers
96k views

What software programming languages were used by the Soviet Union's space program?

I got interested in the Soviet space program and was interested to discover that the software on the Buran spacecraft circa 1988 was written in Prolog. Does anyone know what languages might have ...
12
votes
1answer
677 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 ...
3
votes
6answers
4k views

Why was Objective-C popularity so sudden on TIOBE index?

I'd like to ask a question that is pretty similar to the one being asked here, but for Objective-C. According to TIOBE rankings, the rise of popularity of Objective-C is unprecedented. This is ...
2
votes
2answers
396 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
633 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", ...
23
votes
5answers
2k views

When did the standard for packaging Linux source code become .tar.gz?

When browsing open-source projects that are primarily developed for Linux systems and downloading the latest packages, the source code is always stored in a .tar.gz or .tar.bz2 file. Is there any ...
41
votes
8answers
4k views

Why a static main method in Java and C#, rather than a constructor?

I’m Looking for a definitive answer from a primary or secondary source for why (notably) Java and C# decided to have a static method as their entry point, rather than representing an application ...
1
vote
3answers
223 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.
0
votes
1answer
194 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
771 views

When was source control invented?

I'm aware of many version control systems: CVS, SVN, TFS etc... I've googled for the very first "revision control/version control system" and seen various conflicting answers. When was source ...
2
votes
2answers
210 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 ...
25
votes
1answer
981 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
2answers
169 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 ...
1
vote
5answers
432 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, ...
4
votes
2answers
806 views

Why was ASCII needed?

With an encoding such as EBCDIC being in existence already (and being 8 bit to boot), what was the need to invent yet another encoding and a 7 bit one at that? Why was ASCII invented and what ...
5
votes
2answers
419 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 ...
21
votes
2answers
1k views

Who designed exceptions?

Where did exceptions and exception handling come from? I like how .NET uses it, I like how C++ supports it (but libraries unfortunately use return code or is written in C instead). I know its pretty ...
65
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 ...
6
votes
1answer
242 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 ...
37
votes
14answers
10k views

How have languages influenced CPU design?

We are often told that the hardware doesn't care what language a program is written in as it only sees the compiled binary code, however this is not the whole truth. For example, consider the humble ...
68
votes
3answers
22k views

Why do programming languages, especially C, use curly braces and not square ones?

The definition of "C-Style language" can practically be simplified down to "uses curly braces ({})." Why do we use that particular character (and why not something more reasonable, like [], which ...
31
votes
6answers
9k views

What is the history of why bytes are eight bits?

What where the historical forces at work, the tradeoffs to make, in deciding to use groups of eight bits as the fundamental unit ? There were machines, once upon a time, using other word sizes, ...
5
votes
3answers
283 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
votes
2answers
237 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
225 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?
3
votes
3answers
2k views

C Flexible Arrays: When did they become part of the standard?

I learned to program in C many years ago, and used C steadily for about 10 years. These days, I occasionally have to look at C code, because our Informix 4GL RDS customized runners also contain C ...
1
vote
1answer
600 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 ...
47
votes
3answers
4k views

So what *did* Alan Kay really mean by the term “object-oriented”?

Reportedly, Alan Kay is the inventor of the term "object oriented". And he is often quoted as having said that what we call OO today is not what he meant. For example, I just found this on Google: ...
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?
49
votes
6answers
9k views

Who created the idea(s) of the first loop constructs?

while (1) { if (1+1==2) { print "Yes, you paid attention in Preschool!"; } else { print "Wait... I thought 1+1=2"; } } As a developer, we all have to use ...
30
votes
3answers
8k views

How could the first C++ compiler be written in C++?

Stroustrup claims that Cfront, the first C++ compiler, was written in C++ (Stroustrup FAQ). However, how is it even possible that the first C++ compiler be written in C++? The code that makes up the ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

In C++, were SFINAE and metaprogramming intentional or just a byproduct of templates?

SFINAE and template metaprogramming can do wonderful things and many libraries also use them considerably. Historically both of these "magic concepts" were intentionally introduced/supported in C++ ? ...
7
votes
1answer
410 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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
12
votes
4answers
776 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 ...
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 ...
11
votes
2answers
922 views

Which programming language first introduced 'Hello World'

Which programming language first introduced 'Hello World' as a first program to code for beginners?
38
votes
3answers
5k 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
4answers
322 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 ...
13
votes
5answers
1k views

Why is filesystem preferred for logs instead of RDBMS?

Question should be clear from its title. For example Apache saves its access and error logs in files instead of RDBMS no matter on how large or small scale it is being utilized. For RDMS we just have ...
6
votes
3answers
974 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
547 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 ...
25
votes
3answers
19k views

Why is Python written in C and not in C++?

In Python's tutorial one can read that Python's original implementation is in C; On the other hand, the Python implementation, written in C, (...) I'm very curious why was Python written in C ...
52
votes
7answers
6k views

How were the first compilers made?

I always wonder this, and perhaps I need a good history lesson on programming languages. But since most compilers nowadays are made in C, how were the very first compilers made (AKA before C) or were ...
12
votes
6answers
2k views

What is the philosophy/reasoning behind C#'s Pascal-casing method names?

I'm just starting to learn C#. Coming from a background in Java, C++ and Objective-C, I find C#'s Pascal-casing its method-names rather unique, and a tad difficult to get used to at first. What is the ...
25
votes
3answers
3k views

What is the origin and meaning of the phrase “Lambda the ultimate?”

I've been messing around with functional programming languages for a few years, and I keep encountering this phrase. For example, it is a chapter of "The Little Schemer, which certainly predates the ...
5
votes
3answers
2k 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
255 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 ...
20
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...