October 24th, 2012
A bit of programming language nostalgia, courtesy of a contribution from Rupert Baines to this Quora thread on describing programming languages in layman's terms:
Pascal. Your grade-school teacher. A bit prim, a bit prissy but at the time you thought she was the way everyone should be. Funnily enough, none of the grown-ups had the same high impressions and afterwards you can see why.
Modula – Pascal's daughter. Died young
Forth – she was a strange girl. Creative, idiosynratic, flexible (the things she did sometimes! WOW! It could blow your mind).
But a little bit Ayn Rand, a little bit survivalist: everything had to be self-reliant. None of this co-operation malarkey. Last you heard she was somewhere in Patagonia, where she'd built a complete city from first principles, using just the forest & natural resources, from her own unique design, her own energy and a lot of bloody-minded persistence.
That said, you still have a beautiful bracelet she made for you, from metals she smelted herself, from rocks she dug up in the woods & forests: "FORTH LOVE IF SMILE THEN !"
I have to admit to having had quite the schoolboy crush on Pascal back in the day. Forth, not so much.1
- I understand in principle why Reverse Polish Notation and stack-based storage are efficient and map well onto how a CPU manipulates data, but I always felt that part of the joy of computers was that they could deploy some of their processing power to take care of such distracting background details and leave us humans to deal with higher order problems. ↩