For questions about the history of programming and computing.

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3
votes
2answers
520 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 ...
17
votes
6answers
727 views

Why did the web win the space of remote applications and X not?

The X Window System is 25 years old, it had it's birthday yesterday (on the 15'th). As you probably are aware of, one of it's most important features is the separation of the server side and the ...
1
vote
1answer
358 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, ...
25
votes
2answers
7k views

Why was the percent sign (%) chosen as the format specifier for the printf family of functions?

Everyone knows that, at least in C, you use the printf family of functions to print a formatted string. And these functions use a percent sign (%) to indicate the beginning of a format specifier. For ...
5
votes
3answers
989 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
3answers
824 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 ...
6
votes
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 ...
5
votes
1answer
320 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
960 views

Why is the “kill” command called so?

Why was it decided to call the kill command "kill"? I mean, yes, this utility is often used to terminate processes, but it can actually be used to send any signal. Isn't it slightly confusing? Maybe ...
9
votes
3answers
769 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

Historical origins of Scala implicits

Scala has been called complex with its rich feature set by many of my colleagues and some even blamed all those new features of it. While most programmers are aware of the OO-features, and at least ...
9
votes
2answers
374 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 ...
12
votes
6answers
4k views

What does Jamie Zawinski's Law mean?

I need a proper explaination of Jamie Zawinski's Law of Software Envelopment: Every program attempts to expand until it can read mail. Those programs which cannot so expand are replaced by ones ...
8
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

Pure virtual or abstract, what's in a name?

While discussing a question about virtual functions on Stack Overflow, I wondered whether there was any official naming for pure (abstract) and non-pure virtual functions. I always relied on ...
8
votes
2answers
352 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 ...
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 ...
8
votes
4answers
350 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, ...
3
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
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 ...
4
votes
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 ...
7
votes
1answer
216 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 ...
56
votes
6answers
4k 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, ...
2
votes
4answers
882 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 ...
19
votes
5answers
4k 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
358 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
387 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
632 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 ...
16
votes
6answers
7k views

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

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
1k 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?
3
votes
3answers
610 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
822 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.
64
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
247 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
813 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
2k 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?
15
votes
6answers
6k 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? ...
2
votes
3answers
11k 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
541 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$?
24
votes
2answers
7k 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 ...
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 ...
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?
20
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
7
votes
5answers
617 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
414 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
343 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
473 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
402 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"?