Devin Mullins wrote:
> Oh, and as for whether "this interest in linguistic diversity is
> justified, or just a fad" (clever), my vote's on both. Ob. Alan Perlis
> quote: "A language that doesn't affect the way you think about
> programming is not worth knowing." (Hint: That quote's not new.) At the
> same time, most of the blogospherity on language diversity is driven by
> Rails, and that'll fade.

Wow ... Alan Perlis ... that takes me back to the infancy of programming
languages. We're talking Algol *58* and its implementations, such as
MAD, JOVIAL and NELIAC. We're talking machines with word sizes a
multiple of three because it's easier to do octal arithmetic in your
head than hexadecimal arithmetic.

We're talking 026 keypunches, character sets with six-bit characters,
and machines that didn't even know what the time of day was. Did people
really use this stuff to run large businesses and design nuclear weapons
and space vehicles? :)

And language diversity -- even if you don't count all the macro
assemblers, there was FORTRAN, COBOL, RPG, various dialects of Algol,
Lisp, COMIT, SNOBOL and quite a few others. So what was "worth knowing?"
Well, of course, FORTRAN for science and COBOL for business. Macro
assembler for optimization. Algol if you worked for or with Burroughs or
with European programmers.

But only two languages would "change the way you think about
programming." One was Lisp, and the other was APL. Since then, only two
more have come along that changed the way *I* think about programming --
Forth and Smalltalk.