[Edu-sig] re Guido's talk at Europython

urnerk@qwest.net urnerk at qwest.net
Mon Jun 27 13:53:02 CEST 2005

So I attended Guido's 'Why I Invented Python' talk in conference room VV
today (Swedes like V and K above other letters, it seems to me).

I learned quite a bit of history from this talk.  He paid a lot of tribute
to ABC (a language for non-programmers needing to write programs) for being
inspirational, but he also learned from its failures, and its "world-wide
non-adoption."  Python would be different (and it was).

Whereas ABC was for non-professional programmers, Python was designed from
the ground up to be a tool for pro programmers.  It was also meant to be a
project one person could implement, so Guido dropped certain features of
ABC, even if he liked them, if the implementation was hairy (e.g. type

Chief among ABC's features that he wanted to keep:  the interactive prompt.
Indeed, this is a feature of Python that newcomers to the language often
say they most appreciate (even if they've programmed before -- immediate
feedback is a great way to attain mastery relatively quickly).  

[ In my own case, coming from dBase and its "dot prompt" (and previously
APL) I'd come to take such interactivity for granted, and probably would
never have invested in Python had it been lacking this advantageous
feature. ]

I hadn't realized he first developed Python on a Fat Mac, but always with
the intent to make it cross-platform, i.e. to run on Amoeba, the OS he was
working on at the time, and Unix, the production OS at work.  Python was
first conceived as a scripting language for Amoeba, something to fill the
gap between the shell and C programming.  He looked at Perl but found it
rather non-portable (it took a Unix environment for granted, at least at
that point).

Nor had I fully appreciated that, although the architecture was OO from the
beginning, the capability for users to add their own classes came a few
months later.  The fact that types and classes weren't well integrated at
first traces to user classes being "second class citizens" at first.

There's an emphasis on newcomers to Python this year:  neopytes, they're
being called.  Guido helped launch that track.  Every available seat in VV
was taken.


mail2web - Check your email from the web at
http://mail2web.com/ .

More information about the Edu-sig mailing list