Saturday, March 15, 2014

Nothing important has happened since 1970...

Nothing important has happened since 1970...  Well, not in software systems, any way.  So says David Dalrymple, who concludes:
I find that all the significant concepts in software systems were invented/discovered in the 15 years between 1955 and 1970. What have we been doing since then? Mostly making things faster, cheaper, more memory-consuming, smaller, cheaper, dramatically less efficient, more secure, and worryingly glitchy. And we’ve been rehashing the same ideas over and over again. 
He also asserts that there were just 8 significant developments in software systems, and all happened between 1955 and 1970.  It's an intriguing list:
  1. The programming language
  2. The operating system
  3. Interactivity
  4. Transactions
  5. Garbage collection
  6. Virtualization
  7. Hypermedia
  8. Internetworking
Being ancient and venerable, I've worked on several of the original systems he cites, and several more early exemplars.  For quite a few years now, it's been a challenge for me to understand the context that younger software engineers operate in.  In my last few jobs, nearly all my colleagues started engineering (actually, were born) after all eight of these had been discovered and had permeated the engineering development environments.  Most of them, for instance, have never seen a computer without an operating system that virtualizes at least memory, or one that doesn't include networking capability.

He also makes the point that the same ideas keep resurfacing as if new, with just the packaging changed – something I've noted myself...

No comments:

Post a Comment