lies about OOP

Steve Holden steve at
Tue Dec 14 17:00:20 CET 2004

Paul McGuire wrote:

> "Jive" <someone at> wrote in message
> news:Revvd.807843$SM5.50718 at
> <snip>
>>But by '86, the Joy of OOP was widely known.
> "Widely known"?  Errr?  In 1986, "object-oriented" programming was barely
> marketing-speak.  Computing hardware in the mid-80's just wasn't up to the
> task of dealing with OO memory and "messaging" overhead.  Apple Macs were
> still coding in C and Forth.  Borland didn't ship Turbo-Pascal with
> Object-Oriented programming until 1989, and Turbo-C++ shipped in 1991.
> Smalltalk had been around for 10 years by 1986, but it was still a
> curiosity, hardly "widely known."  It wasn't until the publication of David
> Taylor's "Object Technology: A Manager's Guide" in 1990 that OOP began to be
> legitimized to many management decision makers, that it was more than just
> "fairy dust" (as Bill Gates had characterized it in an attempt to discredit
> Borland's forays into the field).
Well, that's not true either, and the fact that Bill Gates was 
denigrating it implies that he at least knew about it, even if he chose 
not to adopt it (then: of course nowadays Microsoft call almost all 
their technologies "object oriented"; sometimes this description is as 
accurate as when Gates speaks about "our open Windows environment").

> I would pick the publication of "Design Patterns" in 1995 by the Gang of
> Four (Gamma, Helm, Johnson, and Vlissides),  to be the herald of when "the
> Joy of OOP" would be "widely known."  DP formalized a taxonomy for many of
> the heuristics that had evolved only intuitively up until then.  Its
> emergence reflects a general maturation of concept and practice, sufficient
> to say that the Joy of OOP could be said to be "widely known."
We could all make our own choices, but anyone who's been programming 
*seriously* since the 60s will likely remember Simula as the birth of 
many oft he ideas later picked up by Alan Kay and promoted by the Xerox 
PARC SmallTalk group.

I visited that group in 1981 (after Kay left, unfortunately, and then 
being headed by Adele Goldberg, who is now coincidentally promoting the 
delights of Python at conferences like OSCON), and object-oriented 
programming was certainly something that was being taken pretty 
seriously in the academic world as a potential solution to some serious 
PLIT engineering problems.

The fact that it took the technology a relatively long time to appear 
"in the wild", so to speak, is simply the natural maturation of any new 
technology. Given that UNIX was developed in the early 1970s I'd say it 
took UNIX 20 years to start becoming mainstream. But a lot of people 
knew about it before it *became* mainstream, especially those who had to 
place their technology bets early. The same is true of object-oriented 

I guess this is just to say that I'd dispute your contention that 
SmallTalk was a curiosity - unless you define anything of interest 
mostly to the academic world as a curiosity, in which case there's no 
way to overcome your objection. It was the first major implementation of 
an entire system based exclusively on OO programming concepts and, while 
far from ideal, was a seminal precursor to today's object-oriented systems.


Steve Holden     
Python Web Programming
Holden Web LLC      +1 703 861 4237  +1 800 494 3119

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