Alex Payne

Writer, backer, erstwhile technologist.

An Unfinished Idea: A Book On The History of Programming Languages

Intended as a text accessible to the “technical layman” - that is, anyone with a decent grasp of how a computer works, but not necessarily a professional programmer. The book would be organized as a narrative history, starting at the earliest primordial language-like programming constructs, continuing through the early years of simple procedural languages, exploring the conflict between functional and object-oriented languages, and ending up in our present landscape of almost overwhelming language diversity.

Ideally, while the book would be printed, it would serve as a model of post-hypertext authorship. More than just slapping the text up online or bolting a comment system on, the book would be conceived as an enduring content management system for this narrative approach to the history of programing languages. It should take full advantage of the Kindle and other new platforms for content.

As of yet, I’m uncertain if the book puts forth an argument or thesis. Exploring the history of languages as an impartial observer would still make for an informative read. Yet, without an agenda or philosophy, I wonder if the text would be as engaging as it could be.