lies about OOP

Paul McGuire ptmcg at
Tue Dec 14 19:28:07 CET 2004

"Steve Holden" <steve at> wrote in message
news:29Evd.32591$Jk5.26287 at lakeread01...
> Paul McGuire wrote:
> > "Jive" <someone at> wrote in message
> > news:Revvd.807843$SM5.50718 at
> >
> > <snip>
> >
> >>But by '86, the Joy of OOP was widely known.
> >>
> >
> >
> > "Widely known"?  Errr?  In 1986, "object-oriented" programming was
> > marketing-speak.  Computing hardware in the mid-80's just wasn't up to
> > task of dealing with OO memory and "messaging" overhead.  Apple Macs
> > 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
> > 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
> > "fairy dust" (as Bill Gates had characterized it in an attempt to
> > 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
> > Joy of OOP" would be "widely known."  DP formalized a taxonomy for many
> > the heuristics that had evolved only intuitively up until then.  Its
> > emergence reflects a general maturation of concept and practice,
> > 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
> concepts.
> 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
> regards
>   Steve
> -- 
> Steve Holden     
> Python Web Programming
> Holden Web LLC      +1 703 861 4237  +1 800 494 3119

Good points all.  And yes, I recall the BYTE article on Smalltalk.  I guess
I was just reacting mostly to the OP's statement that "by '86 the Joy of OOP
was widely known".  He didn't say "OOP all began when..." or "OOP was widely
known," which I think still would have been a stretch - he implied that by
'86 OOP was widely recognized as Goodness, to which I disagree.  This was
the year of the first OOPSLA conference, but as PyCon people know, just
having a conference doesn't guarantee that a technology is widely and
joyfully accepted.  Just as my commercial-centric view may understate
academic interest in some topics, an academic-centric view may overestimate
the impact of topics that are ripe for research, or technically "cool," but
little understood or adopted outside of a university setting.

I would characterize the 80's as the transitional decade from structured
programming (which really started to hit its stride when Djikstra published
"Use of GOTO Considered Harmful") to OOP, and that OOP wasn't really
"joyful" until the early-to-mid 90's.

(And I apologize for characterizing Smalltalk as a "curiosity."  I admit my
bias is for software that is widely commercially deployed, and even the most
ardent Smalltalkers will have difficulty citing more than a handful of
applications, compared to C,C++,VB,COBOL,Delphi, etc.  I personally have
seen Smalltalk-based factory control and automation systems, but they are
rapidly self-marginalizing, and new customers are extremely reluctant to
enfold Smalltalk into an already patchwork mix of technologies, as is
typically found in factory settings.)

-- Paul

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