The State of the Onion 9

Perl creator Larry Wall:

You might say that Perl grew out of the Cold War. I’ve often told the story about how Perl was invented at a secret lab that was working on a secret NSA project, so I won’t repeat that here, since it’s no secret. Some of you have heard the part about my looking for a good name for Perl, and scanning through /usr/dict/words for every three- and four-letter word with positive connotations. Though offhand, I can’t explain how I missed seeing Ruby. So anyway, I ended up with “Pearl” instead.

But it’s a little known fact that one of the three-letter names I considered for quite a while was the word “spy.” […]

But wouldn’t “Spy” be a great name to give to a language whose purpose was pattern matching and reporting? Hmm. And spies are also called “agents of change.” “Practical extractions are one of our specialties.”

Instead of a warn operator, it’d have to be the warn off operator. Instead of having a die operator, we might have had the let die operator. Then we’d get Perl poetry, I mean, Spy poetry, with phrases like live or let die.

Friday, 23 September 2005

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