Could Python supplant Java?

James J. Besemer jb at
Thu Aug 22 03:03:03 CEST 2002

goose wrote:

> what kind of a system is that ? every system I've worked on
> (other than windows) came with at least *ONE* compiler ...
> and most let you rebuild the kernel as well ...

Your experience is severely limited and not representative.

If you go back far enough in time (with the notable and noble exception of
Linux and some Unix), the vast majority of commercial operating systems were
sold stripped down with all aplications and development tools costing extra.

Traditionally, development tools cost extra because many computers were
purchased to run canned applications, not custom development.  Also multiple
development tools often were available (Fortran vs. Cobol vs. Basic etc.) and
hardly anybody wanted (or could afford) all of them so they were almost
always sold ala carte.  In some instances you might get an assembler for

In the 1970s my employer purchased a Fortran compiler for a DEC PDP-11
("DOS") system for $5000.  The university accounting department sent us a
'property tag' to permanantly attach to the compiler.  ;o)

Digital's VMS for VAX-11 at the time was not even capable of rebuilding
itself  (it required some critical components cross-compiled from PDP10 OS).

Most IBM mainframe application software (from IBM) was not available for sale
-- it only could be leased.  Some third party software was also leased while
some other was sold or licensed more like today's software.

Also, commercial timeshare rental systems offered development system tools
but extracted a per-minute surcharge for their use.

The free software movement may eventually take over the world but it has a
long way to go.

In the case of Windows, I submit that the vast majority of users are NOT
developers and could care less about a development tool.  E.g., my mother in
law uses her computer almost daily to send and receive email, to browse the
internet, to do simple word procesing.  The vast majority of customers
probably use Word and Excel and software developed by others and don't do or
want to do development at all.

> no. You must back this up if you want me to believe it.
> Of the <20 regular friends I have, only 1 has never
> programmed. all of them, given access to SOME sort of a
> development tool, will write something (already have
> as a matter of fact)

My children and their friends dabble in software.  My daughter had quite a
fancy web page before she abandoned it.  My son wrote a kind of space war
game in VB and a desk calculator app when he was 8.  But dabblers hardly
count as "developers".

The vast majority of "developers" I know of (literally hundreds over the
years) virtually all are "commercial" in that they are employed full time
writing software for a company who intends to make money  from it.  Some have
equity and others work simply for salary.


James J. Besemer  503-280-0838 voice  503-280-0375 fax
mailto:jb at

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