Python Gotcha with Octal Numbers

Steve Holden sholden at
Wed Feb 13 19:27:17 CET 2002

"Richard Steiner" <rsteiner at> wrote in message
news:yuqa8oHpvCEW092yn at
> Here in alt.folklore.computers,
> claird at (Cameron Laird) spake unto us, saying:
> >In article <130220020751360934%jwbaxter at>,
> >John W. Baxter <jwbaxter at> wrote:
> > .
> >>Did the elves at AT&T pick up the "leading 0 means octal" from
> >>something earlier, or did they invent this stupidity themselves?
> > .
> >OK, folks, how far back *can* we trace this?  My
> >mind associates it with DEC systems, going back
> >to the '60s, but I couldn't find any confirmation
> >of that in a quick search.
> I've seen the leading-zero-means-octal convention used rather heavily
> in documentation dated 1967-1968 in a UNIVAC 1106/1108 context.
> It seems to have been a fairly well-established convention at that
> point in time, at least in the UNIVAC world.
Indeed, this was also true of the UNIVAC 418 which predated the 1100 series.
Ah me, ah my, FastRand drums. One of the engineers told me that they turned
sewer pipes down on a precision lathe to make those huge horizontal drums.
Certainly impressive to look at, but less fun when you had to hire a crane
to deliver one through a fourth floor window.

[drools into beard]

those-were-the-days-ly y'rs  - steve
Consulting, training, speaking:
Author, Python Web Programming:

"This is Python.  We don't care much about theory, except where it
intersects with useful practice."  Aahz Maruch on

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