History

DanFest 2004 - in honor of Dan Friedman

On December 3rd and 4th, 2004, the Computer Science Department at Indiana University hosted a conference to celebrate Daniel P. Friedman's 60th birthday. The DanFest web page has the program, links to some of the papers, and photos.

Dan Friedman, of course, is a CS professor at Indiana and an influential programming language researcher and teacher, best known to a wider audience as the lead author of EOPL, used in many PL courses. Who do you get to speak at a conference in honor of the author of a book so famous it is recognizable by its acronym? Why, the authors of the other famous acronymized books in the same field, of course, such as SICP, HTDP, and TSPL.

The keynote address, "Dan Friedman: Cool Ideas", was delivered by Guy Steele, and the star-studded program included authors of the above books, and many previous students of Friedman's. An article in the Indiana student newspaper provides some of Friedman's perspective on the event.

The speaker list also included a couple of (semi-)regular LtU'ers, Oleg Kiselyov and Kevin Millikin (did I miss anyone?) My thanks to Oleg for prompting me to post this.

Bitsavers' Archive

Via Dusty Decks we find bitsavers.org which contains scanned copies of manuals as well as historic source code and software.

Some of the manuals are for programming languages like Algol and Fortran, of course.

Seems like a good site to bookmark.

CADR Lisp Machine emulator

via Planet Lisp
Brad Parker has released an emulator for CADR, the second-generation MIT Lisp Machine. The emulator comes bundled with the operating system and you can run it on a regular Unix machine.

He estimates that it is 90% complete. I can confirm that it does boot up and run ZWEI, the Lisp Machine Emacs. (Note that this is MIT's Lisp Machine and not the fancier Symbolics derivative.)

This is really cool!

A Conversation with Manfred von Thun

Sketchpad: A man-machine graphical communication system

Ivan Sutherland's famous thesis has been rereleased in a new electronic edition. This is a freely downloadable and high-quality PDF version created by Alan Blackwell and Kerry Rodden.

Simulators: Virtual Machines of the Past (and Future)

SIMH, the Computer History Simulation system, is a behavioral simulator for obsolete systems of historic interest. Originally intended as an educational project, it is increasingly being used in long-lived production environments as a substitute for real systems. SIMH is continuously being extended to simulate new machines.

This item isn't directly PL related, but since many LtU regulars are fond of programming language history, I assume there is interest in other apsects of computing history. On top of that, if and when you try to rescue an obsolete language implementation, there's a good chance you are going to need something like SIMH.

This ACM Queue article describes the design issues invloved in building SIMH, and the problems the arise when simulating old hardware systems.

Alan Kay: The Early History of Smalltalk

by way of lispmeister
(PDF scan or HTML)

Smalltalk's design--and existence--is due to the insight that everything we can describe can be represented by the recursive composition of a single kind of behavioral building block that hides its combination of state and process inside itself and can be dealt with only through the exchange of messages.

Really double-extra good.

Early history of Fortran

A very rich site devoted to tracking down the source code for the original Fortran compiler:

My name is Paul McJones. I hope to use this weblog to discuss software history among other topics. For several months I’ve been studying the early history of Fortran, and trying to track down the source code for the original Fortran compiler. Although I just set up this weblog recently (June-July 2004), I’ve created back-dated entries to document my quest in chronological order

It seems most items recently are about programming language history... This site describes an interesting quest, which makes me wonder if the evolution of more recent languages will be easier to document, given the Internet and so forth. It would be rather amusing if LtU will once be used as an historical resource ;-)

The idea of preserving classic software is a good one. I think programming languages (and programming technology in general) are very good indecators of the state of the art and the major issues of the day (e.g., Java and the Net), so building a timelime by considering PLs sounds like a good idea.

We should also keep in mind that John Backus of FP fame was famous even before that for his work on compilers, and was involved with the Fortran team at IBM.

An interactive historical roster of computer languages

A very interesting site dedicated to the history of programming languages.

The navigation is a bit clunky, and I am still not sure I understand all the features of the site, but the database is impressive (use the "search" button on the right hand side of the window to open the search frame).

The site includes amusing statistics (e.g., which decade produced the most programming languages?)

It would be interesting to see what LtU readers think about the taxonomy used here. It's quite fine-grained.

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