Back to Main List
Back to Book List

Notes and Reflections on Books and Media

by Hannah Leitheiser


history of programming languages-ii

thomas j. bergin




'how do we know what is going to be an "historically significant" project? every project is significant, and deserves to be documented from the beginning in that way. only time will tell whether it has historic significance and even then it will depend on point of view--work group, company, discipline, and so on. in any case, i believe that this is an irrelevant question. i will argue that maintaining documentation, as though the project will be historic, makes good sense from general principles of computer science; it certainly does from the point of view of software engineering. behind every project should be a database of information about that project. in other words, document every project well for the sake of the project itself. then, if the documentation is also needed for historical purposes, it will be available.' - history of programming languages ii

i imagine the computer revolution will be one of the best documented eras for historians, but it will always be true that key pieces of information, details, and context slip away with the passage of time. the author observes that few involved in technology have the interest or resources to document their work for the future or save technical artifacts for museums (imagine the money involved in keeping a mainframe around, for example).