For questions about the history of programming and computing.

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3
votes
3answers
454 views

strcpy memcpy reason for parameter order

Answering a question about order of parameters it struck me that strcpy (and family) are the wrong way round. Copy should be src -> destination. Is there a historical or architectural reason for the ...
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 ...
13
votes
5answers
770 views

Why is $ in identifier names for so many languages?

A lot of scripting languages like Perl, Awk, Bash, PHP, etc. use a $ sign before identifier names. I've tried to look up why but never had a satisfactory answer.
2
votes
2answers
75 views

Where can I find an authoritative source documenting the relationships between standards bodies?

There seems to be a number of different so-called "standards" bodies interacting and/or competing with each other. For example, RFC 3629 references ISO/IEC 10646 and appears to be governed by the ...
60
votes
1answer
3k views

What task did Dijkstra give volunteers, which was mentioned in his paper “The Humble Programmer”?

In Dijkstra's paper "Humble Programmer", he mentions that he gave some volunteers a problem to solve: “I have run a little programming experiment with really experienced volunteers, but something ...
2
votes
2answers
226 views

Reasons for the build-technological fork between Java and UNIX/C/Fortran

When Java was developed, it's designers chose to discard an unusual amount of the conventional wisdom established in the UNIX and C oriented toolchains. For one (and in my view) the most major ...
16
votes
9answers
2k views

What were the reasons why Windows never had a decent shell? [closed]

I was reading a topic on SO: Why are scripting languages (e.g. ...) not suitable as shell languages?. Especially I liked the answer by Jörg W Mittag, from which I learned interesting things about ...
6
votes
3answers
629 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 ...
10
votes
5answers
1k views

Who invented pointers?

Pretty simple question, but something I haven't been able to find out. Who was the first person to describe the idea of a pointer? The abstract concept itself?
14
votes
6answers
5k views

Why no client-side HTML include tag?

I had a question posed to me the other day by another programmer. I remember (a very long time ago) wondering the very same. Why was a browser-side include tag never considered? Or was it? ...
1
vote
3answers
5k views

Sequel vs S-Q-L [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What's the history of the non-official pronunciation of SQL? I hear it every so often, "In sequel server...", and for some reason I cringe every time. Maybe it's ...
5
votes
1answer
354 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$?
16
votes
2answers
3k views

What's the history of the non-official pronunciation of SQL?

SQL is officially pronounced as /ˌɛskjuːˈɛl/ like "S-Q-L", as stated in Beaulieu, Alan (April 2009). Mary E. Treseler. ed. Learning SQL (2nd ed.). Sebastapol, CA, USA: O'Reilly. ISBN ...
22
votes
11answers
1k views

Why Does Microsoft Frequently Use Generic Product Names?

Microsoft seems to use such generic names for their core products that it seems like it must be or have been part of a deliberate strategy. It is so common that I think it may have originated as a ...
20
votes
11answers
1k views

Is there a reason for initial overconfidence of scientists and engineers working on artificial intelligence in the 1960s?

I just started an AI & Data Mining class, and the book. AI Application Programming, starts off with an overview of the history of AI. The first chapter deals with the history of AI from the 1940s ...
29
votes
3answers
871 views

Origin of “Readme”

When did people start writing Readme files? It seems that pretty much all programs have this file, regardless of the format. Is there any documented first use of this document?
15
votes
5answers
783 views

What good reasons are there to capitalise SQL keywords?

There seem to be a lot of developers who write their SQL by capitalising the keywords: SELECT column FROM table INNER JOIN table ON condition WHERE condition GROUP BY clause HAVING ...
8
votes
4answers
503 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 ...
6
votes
5answers
426 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
357 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 ...
36
votes
12answers
3k views

Why does the assignment operator assign to the left-hand side?

I began teaching a friend programming just recently (we're using Python), and when we began discussing variable creation and the assignment operator, she asked why the value on the right is assigned ...
4
votes
2answers
299 views

What methods were used for online payments before API's and Paypal, etc

What methods (in programming/web dev terms) were used to take payments online before such things as Paypal, Google Checkout and various gateways and API's. How were such transactions carried out?
1
vote
1answer
346 views

What was the life span of Quick Pascal? [closed]

Microsoft had a Pascal compiler called Quick Pascal. I've seen some conflicting reports about when it was available. Does anyone know for sure? Did it introduce any new language features over the ...
3
votes
1answer
367 views

Who is the father of CIL?

...formerly known as MSIL, simple question, it is widely known that Anders Hejlsberg is the father of C#, but is there a "father of CIL"?
6
votes
2answers
348 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 ...
6
votes
7answers
381 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
271 views

How did Delphi influence the .NET Framework?

As opposed to influence on the C# language, did Delphi influence the .NET Framework too? At first glance .NET is Microsoft's version of Java, but .NET has properties similar to Delphi. Are there other ...
2
votes
2answers
224 views

Was in it Turbo Pascal 4 that Unit were introduced? [closed]

I was surprised when I heard that Pascal didn't originally have units. If I recall correctly they were introduced in Turbo Pascal 4. Did other pascal version have units prior to that? How long before ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

How did the idea of Exception-handling emerge into programming languages? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Who designed exceptions? Today if we look at any language, exception handling is almost a compulsory feature. The languages that didn't have it earlier are implementing ...
7
votes
9answers
819 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
831 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 ...
11
votes
7answers
1k views

What was Java enterprise programming like before Eclipse? [closed]

I'm your standard Java/Oracle developer at a large software firm and Eclipse 3.6 is what I spend most of day in. Java is incredibly verbose and that can be painful (but we don't need another blog post ...
21
votes
4answers
501 views

How did programmers use networking to share expensive computer resources in the 60's and 70's?

I'm young and wasn't alive during the 60's and 70's to experience networking and programming as it once was. I have been watching some talks by Van Jacobson on Content Centric Networking, and in ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

What's the origin of foo and bar? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Using “Foo” and “Bar” in examples I know AT&T labs used them in their Unix days, but do they have even deeper histories?
9
votes
3answers
384 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. ...
5
votes
1answer
217 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 ...
17
votes
6answers
1k views

Why do we call it “production”?

A coworker was wondering this today: "Why is it that in our industry 'production' means 'final, deliverable product'? You know, like if a movie is 'in production', it means they're currently filming ...
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?
16
votes
5answers
645 views

How did programmers work back when a computer was very expensive, rare, as big as a room?

I assume they weren't able to sit in front of a computer for the whole day like we do today. So how did they write their program? On a piece of paper and type it later when the computer is available? ...
10
votes
6answers
3k views

Are Java's public fields just a tragic historical design flaw at this point?

It seems to be Java orthodoxy at this point that one should basically never use public fields for object state. (I don't necessarily agree, but that's not relevant to my question.) Given that, would ...
15
votes
1answer
670 views

How long was Microsoft working on .NET before they released it?

With the whole CLI, CTS, CLS, etc., not only did they release a powerful platform/infrastructure, but they released all the specs that describe it etc. It supports potentially infinite myriad ...
6
votes
3answers
245 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 ...
19
votes
6answers
754 views

Books and stories on programming culture, specifically in the 80's / early 90's

I've enjoyed a number of (fiction/non-fiction books) about hacker culture and running a software business in the 80's, 90's. For some reason things seemed so much more exciting back then. Examples ...
14
votes
1answer
1k views

Where does the word “Programming” come from? [closed]

Where does the word "Programming" come from? I'm referring to the word "program" as referring to "to instruct a computer". Programming, programmer etc...