[Python-ideas] aliasing

Steven D'Aprano steve at pearwood.info
Fri Sep 2 10:30:41 CEST 2011

Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
> Steven D'Aprano writes:
>  > Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
>  > > MRAB writes:
>  > > 
>  > >  > Fortran also pre-dated stack allocation (I think), so local storage was
>  > >  > static (and no recursion!).
>  > > 
>  > > If FORTRAN [sic] predated stack allocation, what did Lisp use to
>  > > handle recursion?
>  > 
>  > I don't see the connection. The first proposal for Fortran was 1953, 
>  > with the first public release in 1957, while John McCarthy didn't start 
>  > work on Lisp until 1958.
> He didn't start work on Lisp the language, or Lisp the interpreter?

Define "start work on" :)

At what point do idle musings about a possibility become actual work?

According to McCarthy, early key ideas and experiments in Lisp occurred 
between 1956 and 1958, some of which using a Fortran-based back end (so 
I was wrong to say there was no connection -- McCarthy was certainly 
aware of Fortran and at least mildly influenced by its "formula 
translation" aspect). Between 1958 and 1962 Lisp was implemented and 
used for experiments in AI.


In Fortran's case, I haven't been able to find when John Backus first 
started thinking about the idea, but he submitted a proposal to IBM in 
late 1953. A draft specification followed in 1954, followed by a manual 
in 1956 and finally a compiler in 1957.

I guess the pace of computer software releases was slower back then, and 
people more forgiving of vapourware.



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