For questions about the history of programming and computing.

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10
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3answers
1k views

Why there are no compound assignment operators for logical operators (such as ||, && etc)?

According to ECMA-262, part 11.13, following is the exhaustive list of compound assignment operators: *= /= %= += -= <<= >>= >>>= &= ^= |=. According to the part 11.11, var c ...
9
votes
3answers
659 views

Have there been disputes when software identifies genders with a boolean? [closed]

I remember that in our first programming class with Java, while explaining data types, the following occurred (kinda): Professor: So, what data type would you choose if your program needs to ...
9
votes
2answers
581 views

Why can't arrays be passed as function arguments in C?

Following this comment, I've tried to google why, but my google-fu failed. Comment from link: [...] But the important thing is that arrays and pointers are different things in C. Assuming ...
9
votes
3answers
391 views

What is the first published reference to test-first programming?

I am rereading Refactoring by Martin Fowler. In Chapter 4, Building Tests, I came across the following passage. In fact, one of the most usefull times to write tests is before you start programming. ...
9
votes
3answers
365 views

Where can I read the original C# introduction paper by Microsoft? [closed]

When Microsoft presented .NET Framework and C# language in 2002, what was the first article to introduce C#? I'm looking for some paper published on MSDN or Microsoft website that would explain the ...
9
votes
2answers
292 views

Why has the accessor methods from the JavaBean specification become the standard for Java development?

The JavaBeans Specification describes a JavaBean as A Java Bean is a reusable software component that can be manipulated visually in a builder tool Since the majority of the lines of code ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Is the 14th line of The Zen of Python a reference to Dijkstra?

Python's Zen states on line 14 that: Although that way may not be obvious at first unless you're Dutch. Is this a reference to the famous Dutch computer scientist Edsger W. Dijkstra?
8
votes
5answers
707 views

What is the historical basis of using Javascript in web programming?

I come from a scientific biology background where we also use Python a lot. Now that I've begun to start with Web development, I've consistently found myself wondering just why it is that JavaScript ...
8
votes
4answers
324 views

Origin of structures and classes

What design and implementation issues did programmers have to solve when they decided first to use structures and classes? When did this happened and who were the pioneers behind these ideas? Note, ...
8
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4answers
510 views

What features did c get from c++?

What features were added to C that were originally in C++? When where they added and for what reason(what where the pro/con arguments)? How do they differ in C as compared to C++? Did the features ...
8
votes
2answers
291 views

How were Fortran's original control structures insufficient?

In my Programming Language Concepts class it was mentioned in passing that Fortran's original control structures were insufficient. It was alluded that they were too similar to machine instructions ...
8
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3answers
558 views

First languages with generic programming support

Which was the first language with generic programming support, and what was the first major staticly typed language (widely used) with generics support. Generics implement the concept of ...
8
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1answer
908 views

Who first created or popularized the original XMLHTTPRequest / MSXML?

I'm trying to understand the origins of AJAX, and think MSXML and XMLHTTPRequest were the objects that started it all. Which came first, and/or became the defacto way to create dynamic pages?
7
votes
7answers
8k views

What was the first programming language written for computers? [closed]

Looking at so many programming languages we have today, each one being unique in it's own way, I've tried to figure out what the first programming language written for computers is. Looking at the ...
7
votes
9answers
840 views

When did developers start making normalized relational databases?

I work on a pretty old application which was converted from DOS and flat files for storing information to Paradox tables using the BDE then to MySQL relational database. The older devs say that the ...
7
votes
2answers
953 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
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2answers
154 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
273 views

Who first coined the term Higher Order Function and/or First Class Citizen?

I've come to understand that long before Haskell, O'Caml or LISP, higher order functions were an academic research subject and in mathematics, Schönfinkel (in 1967) and Haskell Curry (in 1968) already ...
7
votes
1answer
182 views

Strategy for restoring state via URL in web apps

This is a question about modern web apps, where a single page is loaded, and all subsequent navigation is done by XHR calls and modifying the DOM. We can use libraries that manipulate the hash ...
7
votes
1answer
392 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Who was the first software engineer?

It's fairly well known who the first programmer was but who was or were the first software engineer(s)? By software engineer I mean someone who uses formalized specifications and methods to deliver ...
6
votes
7answers
382 views

Are languages just syntax or do they include the framework too? [closed]

In building a language history for Pascal I noticed that at some point languages changed from a strong line between the language and its common libraries to more of a blurry one. In the first few ...
6
votes
3answers
391 views

What's the first language that had the 'Unless' conditional/loop built into itself?

What's the first (oldest) language that had the 'Unless' conditional/loop built into itself? Where an example could be unless (myVar) == if (!myVar) until (myVar) == while (!myVar)
6
votes
3answers
810 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 ...
6
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3answers
253 views

Preserving version control commit history vs Refactoring and Documentation

It costs almost nothing to use the commit history maintained by the version control system. However, during a major project refactoring (or reorganization / cleanup) effort, functions and classes and ...
6
votes
3answers
656 views

Did concept of ViewModel exist before MVVM?

Today I was having a discussion with a colleague that ViewModel is a general concept and existed before MVVM pattern. I believe ViewModel term is used anytime you create a class with Model like ...
6
votes
5answers
442 views

Java without implementation inheritance

In a recent video on Java, Joshua Bloch states at 4 minutes 20 seconds into the video: And then there's inheritance, and that was a marketing necessity. You know, we can argue whether you really ...
6
votes
4answers
303 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
234 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

What was the historical impact of Ariane 5's Flight 501?

The disintegration of the Ariane 5 rocket 37 seconds after launch on her maiden voyage (Flight 501) is commonly referred to as one of the most expensive software bugs in history1: It took the ...
6
votes
1answer
818 views

Why is the code section called a text section?

The section of an executable that contains code is sometimes called the .text section. In segmented memory architectures, a segment mapped as code is sometimes called a text segment. The unix error ...
6
votes
2answers
367 views

In what specific ways did Delphi influence the C# language

I am specifically looking for language influences (as opposed to framework). At first glance C# seems to be an evolution of C/C++ or Java. But we know C# has the same designer as Delphi, and he even ...
5
votes
5answers
2k views

How did the “Rails can't Scale” meme start?

One meme about Rails is that Rails can't Scale. Is it known how this meme started? Was there a particular blog post that argued this is the case?
5
votes
5answers
2k views

False friends? Keyword “static” in C compared to C++, C# and Java

To me, the use of the keyword static in C and languages like C# and Java are "false friends" like "to become" in English and "bekommen" in German (= "to get" in English), because they mean different ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Do any languages use =/= for the inequality operator?

Wikipedia says: Not equal The symbol used to denote inequation — when items are not equal — is a slashed equals sign "≠" (Unicode 2260). Most programming languages, limiting themselves ...
5
votes
3answers
269 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
503 views

Where does the term “Front End” come from?

Where does the term "front-end" come from? Is there a particular presentation/talk/job-posting which is regarded as the first use of the term? Is someone credited with coining the term? The ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

What was the most used programming language before C was created? [closed]

C is a language written between '69 and '73 according to WIkipedia. I imagine it made programming a whole lot easier and opened the gate for other programming languages. My question, however, is what ...
5
votes
2answers
417 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
209 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
370 views

Why is the dollar sign used to abbreviate the description of a cache? [closed]

What's the historical significance of abbreviating say, an L1 cache as L1$?
5
votes
3answers
396 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
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?
5
votes
3answers
881 views

What is the history behind the .NET platform's origins?

I watched Douglas Crockford's JavaScript talks recently, and at one point, he said that Microsoft did not consider JavaScript important because they saw the web as a passing phase of internet usage ...
5
votes
2answers
458 views

Who decided on the terminology downcasting and upcasting?

As far as I know, the terminology comes from how the inheritance hierarchy is traditionally displayed, with the extending types at the bottom, and the parent types at the top. This is a bit ...
5
votes
1answer
272 views

What was the first commercial open-source software?

According to the Wikipedia article on open-source, the philosophy of sharing code has been used in projects since the early computer days (mostly through Universities sharing code). However, I'm ...
5
votes
1answer
228 views

Is there a defined way to create a commit history for Git

I have been working (alone) on an open-source project without using any sort of formal version control. I recently started using Git and GitHub for this project and am wondering if it is possible for ...
4
votes
2answers
732 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 ...
4
votes
6answers
1k views

Programming using an old computer(s) [closed]

Anybody still programming using old computers, e.g. ZX Spectrum BASIC, Amiga BASIC, dumb terminals? If so, do you find it useful for programming using today's technologies? Lastly why do you do it? ...
4
votes
3answers
520 views

What was the first server-side language [closed]

I was thinking about different server-side languages and this question immediately cropped up in my mind. What was the first server-side programming language using which websites were being created? ...