Programming languages have a significant impact on the way our computers work, and our computers practically run our lives so why is it that some languages are a massive success and others end up on the motherboard scrapheap?
Academics at Princeton and the University of California Berkeley are currently analyzing why this is, going through heaps of data, trying to work out if it is something to do with how well a language is documented or how practical it is…
However, while they slug away, a man named Tamir Kahson has come up with an entirely different theory. He believes that in order to create a successful programming language – you need an epic beard!!
Kahson’s lighthearted hypothesis suggests that there seems to be a correlation between the success of a programming language and the length of its writers’ facial hair!!
Many believe ‘C’ to be the most successful programming language ever, originating at Bell Labs in the early 70s – it is now an integral part of modern day computing and has been for some time. Its designers Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie (as well as being incredibly intelligent) had really cool beards!!
Next comes James Gosling’s Java, the second most popular programming language, running all things Android and pulling the strings of cloud services everywhere! Guess what, he had a serious beard too!
Then we have C’s little sister C++ which also came out of Bell Labs and was developed by yet another bearded gentleman – Bjarne Stroustrup!
Lisp is the second oldest high-level programming language still in use, and it heavily influenced countless other languages over the years. Alan Kay — one of the researchers who practically laid the foundation for modern computing at the Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center in the ’70s — calls Lisp the “greatest single programming language ever designed.” Its designer? The late John McCarthy, who possessed one of the greatest beards in the history of artificial intelligence.
Perhaps Kay should have paid more attention to McCarthy’s beard and less to the design of his scripting language. At PARC, Kay invented SmallTalk, which certainly had a major influence on future object-oriented languages, but it never took hold with the world at large. The trouble seems to be that Kay stopped at a mustache.
You see, a mustache may limit how high a language can rise. Joe Armstrong, the inventor of Erlang, was a mustache man. So was Larry Wall, the inventor of Perl, and Thomas Kurtz, the inventor of BASIC. All were influential languages, and all are still going strong in one way or another. But they could have used more hair.
Of course, a mustache is better than nothing. Kristen Nygaard, creator of SIMULA? Not a whisker. Ada inventor Jean Ichbiah? Clean-shaven. Simon Peyton Jones, the chief brain behind Haskell? You guessed it.
Yes, Pascal creator Niklaus Wirth wore a beard. And Pascal’s reach was never that of C or C++ or Java. But it was used on the original Macintosh, a computer the world is obsessed with. And Anders Hejlsberg, who morphed the language into Turbo Pascal, didn’t even have a mustache.
Another exception that proves the rule? Grace Hopper, the brains behind Cobol, a seminal language that arrived in 1959 and is still used today. Apparently, if you’re biologically incapable of growing a beard, the programming gods cut you some slack.
That’s some quite hefty evidence to support Kahson’s theory…So there you have it budding programmers – the information you need to create a successful language!! If you want to succeed – chuck those razors in the bin and start growing yourself some distinguished whiskers!
The Secret of a Successful Programming Language? A Really Great Beard (Via Wired)