2007-11-07

In computer science, all great ideas have be thought

Cruizer said that .NET 3.5 does things which Smalltalk already did nearly 40 years ago. A while ago, while learning more about Smalltalk history (and about the great things therein), I came to the conclusion that all great ideas in computer science have been made before 1975:

  • all programming paradigms: LISP (1958), Smalltalk (around 1970), FORTRAN (1953), PROLOG (about 1970), FORTH (1970), COBOL (1960)
  • the relational database (Codd, 1970), OO-Databases in the 70s
  • Garbage Collection and virtual machines: LISP & Smalltalk
  • the laser printer: 1970
  • graphical displays and CAD systems: 1963 (Sketchpad)
  • the mouse: 1963 (Doug Engelbart)
  • Hypertext: 1945 (Vanevar Bush’s memex and Ted Nelson Xanadu, 1965)
  • computer collaboration: 1968 (Engelbart’s oNline System)
  • the computer demo: 1968 (NLS)
  • the GUI: 1970 (for the Dynabook, in Smalltalk)
  • Networking: 1969 (ARPANET)
  • Laptops: 1970 (Alan Kay’s Dynabook)
  • WYSIWYG: 1974 (the Bravo editor for the Alto computer)
  • and many more

What’s most disgusting for me: many of the great ideas of these inventions have been forgotten by the majority of all the developers and architects and computer engineers (or maybe they just ignore them). And so we are damned to invent all these ideas again - in most cases in a much weaker version.

Posted by Hendrik Lipka at 2007-11-07 (Google)
Categories: people development