For questions about the history of programming and computing.

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5
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5answers
3k 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
186 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
7answers
11k 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
685 views

Which applications have driven the mass spread of floating point units? [closed]

Floating point units are standard on CPUs today, and even desktops might use them today (3D effects). However, I wonder which applications have initially driven the development and mass adoption of ...
18
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5answers
3k views

Why are several popular programming languages influenced by C? [closed]

The Top 10 programming languages, according to the TIOBE index seem to be heavily influenced by C: 1. Java The language derives much of its syntax from C and C++ but has a simpler object model ...
3
votes
2answers
341 views

What is the origin of sessions, by whom and when were they created?

I know sessions are in PHP, ASP, ASP.NET and probably in many other languages. In most cases session solve a problem which the language itself fails to solve. I am wondering Who created sessions and ...
3
votes
1answer
372 views

How to explain the history of programming to non-programmers? [closed]

Sorry if this question is not appropriate for this stack exchange site, I've never used this one before. I am doing my senior project on computer programming. I'm going to be presenting the project ...
11
votes
3answers
893 views

Why didn't the C++ Standard adopt expression templates?

It's my understanding that expression templates as a technique were discovered significantly prior to the original C++ Standard in 1998. Why weren't they used to improve the performance of several ...
3
votes
2answers
476 views

Google Closure Compiler - what does the name mean?

I am curious about the Google Closure Compiler. Why did they name it that? Does it have anything to do with lexical closures? EDIT: I tried researching it in the FAQ and documentation, as well as ...
53
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6answers
3k views

Why the Select is before the From in a SQL Query? [closed]

This is something that bothered me a lot at school. 5 years ago, when I learned SQL, I always wondered why we specify first the fields we want and then where we want them from. According to my idea, ...
6
votes
2answers
525 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 ...
6
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++ ? ...
13
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5answers
5k views

Why pointer symbol and multiplication sign are same in C/C++?

I am writing a limited C/C++ code parser. Now, multiplication and pointer signs give me really a tough time, as both are same. For example, int main () { int foo(X * p); // forward declaration ...
9
votes
1answer
961 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?
28
votes
14answers
4k views

Why isn't rich code formatting more common?

I was reading Code Complete and in the chapter on layout and style, he was predicting that code editors would use some sort of rich text formatting. That means, instead of code looking like this ...
34
votes
6answers
13k 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, ...
3
votes
3answers
535 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
3k 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 ...
15
votes
5answers
802 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.
15
votes
2answers
2k views

What happened to Concurrent C?

I recently checked out a fantastic book from my college library. It is a bit old at 1989, but the language it describes sounds rather nice. And even while I may not be using it soon, I wanted to ...
2
votes
2answers
77 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 ...
35
votes
1answer
2k views

Where does the term “Red/Black Tree” come from?

A Red/Black Tree is one way to implement a balanced binary search tree. The principles behind how it works make sense to me, but the chosen colors don't. Why red and black, as opposed to any other ...
2
votes
2answers
241 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 ...
54
votes
10answers
18k views

Why has C prevailed over Pascal? [closed]

My understanding is that in the 1980s, and perhaps in the 1990s too, Pascal and C were pretty much head-to-head as production languages. Is the ultimate demise of Pascal only due to Borland's neglect ...
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 ...
7
votes
3answers
703 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?
61
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 ...
1
vote
3answers
8k 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
414 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$?
27
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 ...
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 ...
33
votes
3answers
10k 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

What was the first hierarchical file system?

"Directories containing directories and files" seems to have been around forever, but there must have been a first.
18
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5answers
1k 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
539 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
507 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
385 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
322 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?
38
votes
12answers
4k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
387 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"?
30
votes
3answers
1k 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?
6
votes
7answers
390 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
300 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
403 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
721 views

In what specific ways did Pascal and or Delphi influence Java?

I was reading in the side bar of the Java language wiki page and it says it was influenced by Pascal and Delphi. this isn't the fact anymore, there are no references to Delphi on the entire referenced ...
1
vote
1answer
425 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
252 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 ...
16
votes
13answers
2k views

What features contributed to the evolution of Pascal?

I am compiling a detailed history of the Pascal language, and there are a few details I am missing. There are so many features today that we take for granted. What features significantly contributed ...
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 ...