Comparison between Python and "Ruby"

Jim Althoff jima at
Mon Nov 15 16:35:09 EST 1999

At 09:31 PM 11/12/99 -0800, Paul Eggert wrote:
>Jim Althoff <jima at> writes:
> >Absolutely right.  Part of the original dream of the Smalltalk development
> >team was to build a programming language/environment that would be so
> >easy that anybody -- even kids -- could use it.
>Kids?  Kids??  You think _kids_ were the target!?
>No way.  The PARC developers were much more ambitious than that.
>Smalltalk's design goal was to be so easy
>that even _secretaries_ could use it.

I see.

Well, what can I say?  I was merely expressing my opinion based
on actually having been a member of the Smalltalk development
team at PARC.  (And, yes, we _did_ want secretaries to be able to
use the applications.)

Although I assume the "_secretaries_ vs _kids_" bit above was meant
to be humorous, for the historically curious, here is what Alan had to say:


Why is this collection of objects called Smalltalk?

The name actually appeared before the first Smalltalk design, which was 
created in 1971. I had mentioned to someone that the "prose" of then 
current programming languages was lower than a cocktail party conversation, 
and that great progress would have been made if we could even get to the 
level of making "smalltalk". It then occured to me that this word was also 
a great pun for a language aimed at the world of small children.

As for hype: Another motive for "smalltalk" was the practice at the time of 
naming operating, and other, systems (which hardly did anything) after 
mighty indo-european gods, such as Thor, Zeus, Odin, etc. I figured that if 
Smalltalk ever did something neat, then people would be pleasantly surprised.

As related in the Early History of Smalltalk (in HOPL II, Addison Wesley, 
1995), the actual start of today's Smalltalk was kind of accidental and was 
partly the result of a bet. -- Alan Kay




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