For questions about the history of programming and computing.

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7
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1answer
577 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$?
7
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3answers
392 views

Origin of “a method should return a value or have side-effects, but not both”

I read once that a method should either have a return value (and be referentially transparent), or have side-effect(s), but not both. I cannot find any references to this rule, but want to learn more ...
7
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3answers
510 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 ...
7
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1answer
667 views

Original source of `(seed * 9301 + 49297) % 233280` random algorithm?

If you search for examples of creating a seeded (pseudo)Random number generator, you will run into stuff like this (specific example http://indiegamr.com/generate-repeatable-random-numbers-in-js/): ...
7
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1answer
346 views

When was Java's 'qualified this' introduced?

I've only recently learned about the qualified this, and was curious as to when was it introduced in the language, as I've been using Java here and there for around 18 years. Oracle keeps only the ...
7
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1answer
909 views

static globals and anonymous namespaces in C++

Why did C++ make any distinction between static globals (internal linkage) and symbols in an unnamed namespace (external linkage, but no way to refer to it from outside anyway), when introducing the ...
7
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1answer
217 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 ...
6
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4answers
3k 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
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2answers
4k 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 ...
6
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7answers
399 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
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3answers
507 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
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1answer
1k 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 ...
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3answers
2k 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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4answers
374 views

When did Undefined Behavior in C jump the causality barrier

Some hyper-modern C compilers will infer that if a program will invoke Undefined Behavior when given certain inputs, such inputs will never be received. Consequently, any code which would be ...
6
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1answer
368 views

Who invented Haskell's type classes?

Haskell's type classes are a very powerful tool and give Haskell a great expressive ability, compared to functional languages that don't have them. When were they invented, and who invented them?
6
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4answers
552 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
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1answer
255 views

Why was the grave but not the acute accent included in ASCII?

While looking at the Unicode properties (code point, script, block, UTF-8 and UTF-16 encoding, etc.) of some characters, I stumbled upon major differences between ` ("GRAVE ACCENT") and ´ ("ACUTE ...
6
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1answer
383 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
2answers
492 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
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9answers
2k views

Why were punch cards used for programming

I am doing a research essay on the history of programming languages, and I was wondering, why did programmers ever write their programs on punch cards? Didn't computer screens and keyboards already ...
5
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4answers
6k views

Why does Java have a “bad rap” [closed]

I hear a lot of people speak poorly of Java, especially the ones coming from C/C++. Is there a historical reason why? Is it because it used to be machines were too slow to run the JVM without lag?
5
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5answers
3k 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
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3answers
1k 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? ...
5
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2answers
4k views

Why is 24 lines a common default terminal height?

80x24 characters seems to be a very common default for terminal windows. This answer provides a very good historical reason as to why the width is 80 characters. But why is the height commonly 24 ...
5
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2answers
343 views

Where did the three tenets of OOP originate

It is easy to find the origin of the term OOP coined by Alan Kay when he created Smalltalk, but I can't find if when creating the language he also created the 3 tenets of OOP (Encapsulation, ...
5
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4answers
389 views

Which language introduced the idea of private (hidden) variables? [duplicate]

I know C++ had private variables inside classes, and Java, C#, Javascript, and others picked up on that and ran with it. Aside from variable scope, most languages before that just made everything ...
5
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3answers
405 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
566 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
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3answers
4k 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
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2answers
429 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
3answers
1k 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
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2answers
385 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
323 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
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1answer
343 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
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4answers
387 views

Why is code sometimes called “listings”?

When reading Programmers at Work (by Susan Lammers), they often refer to code as "listings". Why is that?
4
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2answers
2k 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
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6answers
2k 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
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2answers
347 views

How and when did it happen that, a type is an interface?

I came from a highly functional and procedural background in programming, and never knew that a type is the same as an interface. As in the Design Patterns book by GoF, it says: A type is a name ...
4
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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 ...
4
votes
2answers
442 views

How did people write end-user software in Smalltalk?

There is something I've never understood about Smalltalk, since reading about it in a book when I was a child, tho' I have never used it "in anger". I know that it is turtles-all-the-way-down, that ...
4
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3answers
4k 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 ...
4
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3answers
3k 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
839 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
135 views

Why does ISO 8859-1 contain letter-free diacritics?

ISO 8859-1 contains a few letter-free diacritics: The diaeresis (¨), the acute accent (´), the cedilla (¸) and the macron (¯).¹ Why were they included? As far as I know (please correct me if I am ...
4
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3answers
653 views

Why is Win32 API's WM_MOVE being called while dragging the window?

I have two callbacks for WM_MOVE and WM_MOVING. Oddly enough, WM_MOVE is being called while dragging the window. I expected WM_MOVE to be called only when I'm done dragging the window. MSDN says that ...
4
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1answer
1k 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 ...
4
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2answers
680 views

History of Associative Array?

In quite a lot of modern scripting languages (e.g. Perl, Python, Ruby, PHP, Lua, JavaScript), associative arrays are supported as a primitive or first-class data type (with various names like map, ...
4
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1answer
390 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 ...
4
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1answer
290 views

Genesis of C++ temporary object lifetime extension

I'm revising a proposal to expand the C++ feature where "temporary" objects cease to be temporary when attached to a name by binding a reference. Here's a sample of the classic behavior (not the ...
4
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2answers
353 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?