For questions about the history of programming and computing.

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5
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2answers
487 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
280 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
240 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
850 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
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
votes
3answers
556 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? ...
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 ...
4
votes
4answers
315 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 ...
4
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 ...
4
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3answers
678 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
1answer
289 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 ...
4
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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?
4
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2answers
313 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?
4
votes
3answers
762 views

First dedicated IDE?

What was the first program that was created as a dedicated IDE? That is, purpose built for coding, rather than simply allowing integration as part of its expansion options. This is opposed to a text ...
3
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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 ...
3
votes
4answers
3k 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?
3
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2answers
469 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
421 views

Why do we put private member functions in headers?

The answer to why we put private member variables in C++ headers is that the size of the class must be known at points where instances are declared so that the compiler can generate code that ...
3
votes
2answers
336 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
360 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
288 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
461 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, ...
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 ...
3
votes
3answers
484 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 ...
3
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1answer
373 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"?
3
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2answers
402 views

How did the term “hypervisor” come into use?

I've read about the "hypervisor" in hardware virtualization. VMs are not my area, so I can't quite see where the term came from. THe wikipedia article talks about how "the hardware's supervisor ...
3
votes
1answer
288 views

Why did Shannon's outguessing machine beat Hagelbarger's?

I'm reading "Rock Breaks Scissors", which describes two "outguessing machines" built at Bell Labs that try to exploit human non-randomness in the game of matching pennies. There was an outguessing ...
2
votes
6answers
2k views

How did programmers implement Linked list ideas before the object oriented paradigm?

Linked lists, as far as I have seen, are largely implemented using object-oriented ideas. (having an object that holds some information and the address of the next link). How were Linked-lists ...
2
votes
4answers
1k views

Why is a database represented as a cylinder in architecture drawings? [closed]

I'm a young upstart programmer and I've never actually seen a database. But computers in large part come in boxes, not in cylinders so I was wondering why they are always represented as a cylinder ...
2
votes
2answers
212 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
241 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 ...
2
votes
5answers
207 views

Why doesn't the HTML\DOM specification allow hyperlinks to set an accept header?

The purpose of the Accept header from the client is to tell the server what kind of data it will accept as a response to its request. We can set this header in asynchronous HTTP calls in Javascript, ...
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 ...
2
votes
4answers
616 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
140 views

Can the Jacquard loom be considered stateless?

Can the Jacquard loom, pictured below complete with its chains of paper cards be considered stateless? As far as I can tell I can tell, each operation is not dependant on the previous. Or did it ...
2
votes
2answers
233 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
261 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
250 views

Is there genetic relationship between ARM and PDP-11 architectures?

Reading about ARM architecture I found many similarities to PDP-11 architecture which did not exist between ARM and x86. For example, General-purpose registers named Rx compared to AX, BX,... for ...
2
votes
1answer
206 views

Why did Aiken decided to separate data and instructions in the Harvard Mark I?

When Aiken devised the Mark I, why did he decided to separate data and instructions? It was not mentioned in Wikipedia (or in any other searches I've looked) on how or why Aiken separated data and ...
2
votes
1answer
210 views

Origin of letter “X” for close icon

Who exactly presented the idea that letter "X" should be used for closing/exiting a window or an application? According to Medium.com, The first appearance of [x] in GUI design was likely the ...
2
votes
2answers
76 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
273 views

Why does the .NET framework have no concept of classes as first-class types?

It's well known to those familiar with the history that C# and the .NET framework started out as essentially "Delphi rewritten to feel like Java," architected by the chief developer behind Delphi, ...
1
vote
2answers
1k 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
1k views

How did Python become popular as a scripting language? [closed]

I looked at it in my field of work, which is film and pretty much every software we use comes with python as a scripting language: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Python_software That made me ...
1
vote
3answers
394 views

Why did the Sun engineers decided to make Java only call by value? [closed]

Is there any specific reason they decided to go with Call by value? Is it for simplicity?
1
vote
3answers
7k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
327 views

Which language came first with parallel assignment?

When I discovered that python has parallel assignment I thought is pretty cool. Recently I discovered parallel assignment works also in ruby. For people that don't know it: x,y = y,x in ruby, ...
1
vote
1answer
251 views

Which programming language first came up with the finally block?

Which programming language first came up with the finally block? I ask purely out of curiosity. It is a very useful piece of syntactic sugar, and whoever first created it surely has a very ...
1
vote
4answers
668 views

Why was Fortran never used to develop an Operating System?

I'm not a Fortran developer myself, but I'm about to use it a little and found myself wondering why, if it is much older than C but equally as performant as C, was it never used to develop any ...
1
vote
1answer
619 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 ...