Can a low-level programmer learn OOP?

Wayne Brehaut wbrehaut at
Sat Jul 14 00:20:29 CEST 2007

On Sat, 14 Jul 2007 06:01:56 +0200, Bruno Desthuilliers
<bdesth.quelquechose at> wrote:

>Chris Carlen a écrit :
>> Hi:
>>  From what I've read of OOP, I don't get it.  I have also found some 
>> articles profoundly critical of OOP.  I tend to relate to these articles.

=== 8< ===

>> Hence, being a hardware designer rather than a computer scientist, I am 
>> conditioned to think like a machine.  I think this is the main reason 
>> why OOP has always repelled me.
>OTOH, OO is about machines - at least as conceveid by Alan Key, who 
>invented the term and most of the concept. According to him, each object 
>is a (simulation of) a small machine.

Oh you young'uns, not versed in The Ancient Lore, but filled with
self-serving propaganda from Xerox PARC, Alan Kay, and Smalltalk
adherents everywhere!

As a few more enlightened have noted in more than one thread here, the
Mother of All OOP was Simula (then known as SIMULA 67).  All Alan Kay
did was define "OOPL", but then didn't notice (apparently--though this
may have been a "convenient oversight") that Simula satisfied all the
criteria so was actually the first OOPL--and at least 10 years earlier
than Smalltalk! 

So Kay actually invented NONE of the concepts that make a PL an OOPL.
He only stated the concepts concisely and named the result OOP, and
invented yet another implementation of the concepts-- based on a
LISP-like functional syntax instead of an Algol-60  procedural syntax,
and using message-passing for communication amongst objects (and
assumed a GUI-based IDE) (and introduced some new terminology,
especially use of the term "method" to distinguish class and instance
procedures and functions, which Simula hadn't done) . 

As Randy Gest notes on, "The
major ideas in Smalltalk are generally credited to Alan Kay with many
roots in Simula, LISP and SketchPad."  Too many seem to assume that
some of these other "features" of Smalltalk are part of the definition
of an OOP, and so are misled into believing the claim that it was the
first OOPL. Or they claim that certain deficiencies in Simula's object
model--as compared to Smalltalk's--somehow disqualifies it as a "true
OOPL", even though it satisfies all the criteria as stated by Kay in
his definition. See and related
pages, and "The History of Programming Languages I (HOPL I)",  for
more details.

Under a claim of Academic Impunity (or was that "Immunity"), here's
another historical tid-bit.  In a previous empolyment we once had a
faculty applicant from CalTech who knew we were using Simula as our
introductory and core language in our CS program, so he visited Xerox
PARC before coming for his inteview.  His estimate of Alan Kay and
Smalltalk at that time (early 80s) was that "They wanted to implement
Simula but didn't understand it--so they invented Smalltalk and now
don't understand _it_!"


=== 8< ===

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