Annoying octal notation

Ethan Furman ethan at
Thu Aug 27 19:51:16 CEST 2009

MRAB wrote:
> Ethan Furman wrote:
>> Steven D'Aprano wrote:
>>> A mistake is still a mistake even if it shared with others.
>>> Treating its with a lead zero as octal was a design error when it was 
>>> first thought up 
>> [snippage]
>> I have to disagree with you on this one.  The computing world was 
>> vastly different when that design decision was made.  Space was at a 
>> premium, programmers were not touch-typists, every character had to 
>> count, and why in the world would somebody who had to use papertape or 
>> punch cards add a lead zero without a *real* good reason?  I submit 
>> that that real good reason was to specify an octal literal, and not a 
>> decimal literal.
>> Now many many years have passed, much has changed, and a leading zero 
>> (like so much else) no longer makes the sense in once did -- 
>> especially in a very wide-spread and general purpose language like 
>> Python.  That does not mean it was not a very good decision at the time.
> I think that it although it might have been reasonable when C was
> invented, it wasn't a good idea when Python was invented.

Very good point.  I was thinking Steven was talking about the earliest 
case, as opposed to the earliest Python case.  My apologies if I 


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