Computer languages tend to be transient

  • #26
George Jones
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HUH ??? Perhaps you mean that you don't need to be a touch typist but surely you can't really believe that you can, or ever could, write computer code without typing?
I wrote my first programs (which used Fortran) without typing. I posted the following in a restrict forum, so I'll share it more widely here.

My "back in the day" story.

Fortran was my first progamming language, which I leaned in two high school computer science courses from '76 to '78. My high school teacher was a CS grad from the University of Waterloo, so we did some good stuff, e.g., introductory numerical methods.

Running programs was quite an experience. "Back in the day", my high school didn't have computers. We penciled in bubbles on computer cards, and then sent out our cards by Geyhound bus to the nearest university, which would run our programs and send the cards and hard-copy results back by bus. Each program had an effective run-time of two to four days! After three days, you would find out that your program hadn't even run, because you penciled in a wrong bubble, causing a fatal syntax error. Result "Execution suppressed."!

Our teacher, Mr. Fennell, managed things well, making sure that we were working on multiple projects and getting results back every day. A very positive experience for (the then young) me.
 
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  • #27
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My early days circa 1970 were very similar but we met only once a week for about 90 minutes at the GE Computer Center Explorer Scout meeting. I was luckier than most as I got two to three runs in on a night with the help of one of the off-shift computer supervisors. Others would only get one run. We all fought for the keypunch machine or used the sheets for the keypunchers to type it for us. I would get there early do my edits and get a run done.

In the end, my project was to plot some math functions using the line printer. The frustration was that while it worked my plots were always on a field of zeros. Years later as a trained programmer for GE, I learned that I needed to initialize the printed array with spaces.

The one positive of the experience was that I was immediately hired right out of college by GE as a poster child for the success of the Explorer Post Program as I was the very first graduate of the program that came back to the fold.
 
  • #28
anorlunda
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Also in the 70s, I once caught a malfunctioning punch card reader. The cards did not always come out in the same order as they went in.

Imagine the angst of those poor programmers who were trying to debug their programs on that machine. Every time they made a new run, the symptoms would worsen. 😩
 
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  • #29
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That’s a very sad story. I think though for source code they would have gotten a listing that would show card order and possibly a compile error depending on the physical malfunction. But for object decks maybe a checksum would catch it.
 
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  • #30
Tom.G
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The cards did not always come out in the same order as they went in.
In the 70's it was already standard (CYA) practice to use a marking pen to put an angled stripe on the edge of a card deck. Priceless when you dropped an inch thick deck!

Patches triggered a different color stripe, not unusual to see a deck with a
4- or 5-stripe rainbow.

Those punch card coding sheets that @Keith_McClary showed in post #23
(https://www.physicsforums.com/posts/6392751)
Came in handy in the late 70s as layout sheets for the 80x24 CRT displays of the time. I think I still have a pad of them around here ... somewhere.

Going back to @Mark44 s post 20
(https://www.physicsforums.com/posts/6392734)
those keypunch machines look like the IBM-029 machines I used when learning Fortran. Of course there were more students than machines, so there were a few of the predecessor IBM-026 keypunches also available. That was a good incentive to get to class early, otherwise you were stuck on the ornery, clumsy -026's!

Back in 1975 my wife and I build an ALTAIR 8800 computer from a kit. Eight bit 8080 CPU with 2MHz clock, program entry by flipping switches on the front panel. Last year, just for the heck of it and after replacing all the filter caps, we fired it up and it worked!

Tom

(have yet to figure out how to copy the pictures from a post)
 
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  • #31
phinds
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Hunt'n'peck with lots of copy'n'paste.

Perhaps filling out these was "coding"?
View attachment 269464
Well, filling those out was just passing the typing on to someone else. SOMEONE has to do the typing, unless you are talking about one of the really early hobby machines that could be programmed through switches on the front panel.
 
  • #32
phinds
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In the 70's it was already standard (CYA) practice to use a marking pen to put an angled stripe on the edge of a card deck. Priceless when you dropped an inch thick deck!
You bet'cher bippy. Saved my butt more than once with that (I'm talking about decks a foot long or more in a carrier tray.
 
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  • #33
I have nothing special to add to a lot of the real good perspectives here on a very interesting question. Language is "organic" and I think best understood in the context of biology and the theory of evolution, rather than a perspective of "programmers" and "language aficionados". Not that the pros don't have great insights and aren't worth reading on this issue. But like life: We learned a lot more from the scientists than from mythology or religion. That does not mean one is wise to "kill the old gods" as Nietzsche indicated had been done and was leaving a fertile ground for the "new man" like Hitler, or Mao, or Stalin. Jettisoning the Pope does not mean you are now in Paradise!!!
 
  • #34
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That video used a strange measurement for "popularity": ' popularity is defined by percentage
of programmers with either proficiency in specific language or currently learning/mastering one. '

That is not what I would use. Much better to look at one of: 1) installed code base (needing maintenance), or 2) job ads (what people are hiring for)

Certain languages such as Ruby are wildly hyped and their reputation guarded but, being unstandardized and not having high performance, they are useless for a lot of realworld high performance applications. I think by using a different criterion for "popularity", those numbers would look quite different.

If you are a student and have access to the online library of a good university (I am retired and no longer have such access), take a look at the Gartner Research reports on language popularity. I'm certain you'll see very different results that the video above gave, and Gartner has been the go-to source for such information for decades now.
 
  • #35
Vanadium 50
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Ruby and Java have one enormous strength. There is usually one best way to do something, and while it's possible to deviate from this, it's definitely swimming upstream. Makes your code much more understandable to others. Ruby and Java also have one enormous weakness. There is usually one best way to do something, and while it's possible to deviate from this, it's definitely swimming upstream.
 

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