[TUHS] Happy birthday, Grace Hopper!
cowan at mercury.ccil.org
Wed Dec 9 05:06:32 AEST 2015
Dave Horsfall scripsit:
> Rear Admiral Grace ("Amazing") Hopper PhD was given unto us in 1906. She
> was famous for coining the term "debugging", whereby a moth was removed
> from a relay contact in a *real* computer[*].
Well, no. The moth incident happened in 1947, and the OED lists the word
"debugging" as first appearing in print in 1945 in a British journal.
Hopper may or may not have known that: certainly she was consciously
punning on the existing word "bug", which went right back to Edison's
laboratory and first appeared in print (per the OED) in 1889.
> However, she must be condemned for giving us COBOL; yes, I know that vile
I know it too, and there is nothing blameworthy about it. We wouldn't get
far nowadays without records, and they first appeared in Cobol (or rather
its direct ancestor Flow-Matic) in 1959, more than a decade before any
other programming language had them. Longer, if you accept that PL/I
would not have taken the shape it did if Cobol had not existed. Yes,
Cobol is clunky and archaic; lots of people think Lisp is archaic too.
But it met a need at a particular time, and very successfully so.
The pseudo-readability was meant, at least by Hopper herself, to help
customers rather than managers understand the code.
John Cowan http://www.ccil.org/~cowan cowan at ccil.org
Big as a house, much bigger than a house, it looked to [Sam], a grey-clad
moving hill. Fear and wonder, maybe, enlarged him in the hobbit's eyes,
but the Mumak of Harad was indeed a beast of vast bulk, and the like of him
does not walk now in Middle-earth; his kin that live still in latter days are
but memories of his girth and his majesty. --"Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit"
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