Conspiracy Theory # 1

[Scene: The early 90s, in an office of a certain Silly Valley computer manufacturer]

“I’ve got a great idea.”



“You know how old programmers are usually overrun and crushed by the young turks? These kids are fresh out of college and can crank out C and C++ faster than us experienced old farts. I’m sick of that.”

“Me, too. That last intern who re-wrote the kernel page management…”

“Worst review of my life, yup. So, why don’t we design a new language, all whizzy and structured and garbage collected and stuff, and — get this — utterly isolated from the OS.

“Like BASIC?”

“Right! So they can’t do anything real in it.”

“I get it. It’s a teaching language.”

“No, we sell it as if it was a real language, too. That way colleges are sure to teach it. And it’ll cripple our competitors once they latch onto it.”


“Now the kids will come out of college knowing essentially nothing about processors, or memory systems, or I/O — hell, they’ll never even have heard of exclusive-OR — and they’ll go into companies thinking they know everything. And in ten or twenty years . . .”

“We keep the castle safe for us. They can’t touch the kernel. We give them a miserable excuse for a native call layer, use blocking I/O everywhere, and give them X-Windows style graphics for user interfaces. Yeah. I like it.”

“What should we call it?”

Author: landon

My mom thinks I'm in high tech.

49 thoughts on “Conspiracy Theory # 1”

  1. “And if that’s not enough, we wrap it with a set of standard libraries and a crippled set of functionality and call it a ‘framework’!”.
    “Oh, hang on! We can do a lot better! We reinvent the Tuxedo TP monitor, make it totally unworkable this time around and call it ‘j2ee’!!! That’ll make any new project doomed from the start!”
    “Yeah! And we tell them to blame the database bozos for the resulting disasters! We even invent a new term for the process: ‘OR-mapping’!”.

    1. Nope. j2ee/ejb was IBM’s “contribution”. They needed to get some mileage out of all that San Francisco framework crap (which, in turn, came from Taligent…)

  2. I was leaning towards Ada, but I don’t know enough about it to tell if it fits the X11-ish graphics requirement.

    But Java comes off to me as an ivory-tower language (checked exceptions? one-class-per-file-or-death!?) that isn’t too far gone, which must have been what confused the marketers at Sun into launching it as a “real” language.

    Ironically, Sun’s licensing kept it off Linux, they became embattled with Microsoft (for good reason) and lost that platform, and I’m not sure what happened to Apple historically… but in the end, you had a write-once, run-nowhere language, and Microsoft’s Java-inspired C# became one of the preferred languages under Gnome (compare their C# to Java bindings), a project started for Freedom because of QT…. Truly, the irony quota for the decade was met thrice over.

    1. Yes. You are, infact, the only old fart around here who remembers Modula-2.

      I hope that makes you feel better.

    2. I still have the manuals. Modula-2 for atari ST by Application Systems Heidelberg. (just a middle-aged fart). Good times.

    3. In the early 90’s I was tasked with maintaining a DOS TSR written in Modula-2, basically a printer driver. The joke was they assigned me this my very first day on the job, gave me the wrong version of the compiler for building it, and then the entirety of R&D went away to ComDex for a week. There wasn’t a single person left to as why the —- it wasn’t working. Extra points for the person who can name the printer company that sent their entire technical staff to fall ComDex every year.

      As bad as that sounds, at least it was not Java.

  3. Of course, it could have been a clever method of sabotaging one’s employer. How else did a company selling expensive hardware and operating systems deploy a language specifically designed to commoditize hardware and operating systems?

  4. I love it when the haters get together to diss the second-most commercially important language in the world at present. How many real, paying projects are written in you particular ivory tower CS language?

  5. What’s wrong about encapsulating system details and offer a high level language for solving high level problems? why do you want to touch the kernel if you want to build a web form with some db and statistics? I don’t know much about those os stuff and that’s ok because I trust those freaks who develop an api which I can use.

  6. ok, what the hell?
    .NET? javascript? python? PHP??? for god sakes, Windows Powershell!?
    it started like this:
    >[Scene: The early 90s, in an office of a certain Silly Valley computer manufacturer]
    so that discards .NET, php, and windows powershell -_-”
    python is old enough, but…
    >”Now the kids will come out of college knowing essentially nothing about processors, or memory systems, or I/O — hell, they’ll never even have heard of exclusive-OR — and they’ll go into companies thinking they know everything. And in ten or twenty years . . .”
    so no, it has to be a really popular language, whose programmers are the kind of people who think they know everything.
    >”and — get this — utterly isolated from the OS.”
    no, no, its not a scripting language, they are not isolated from the OS, they work with the OS! (bash is the best example)
    Its a language for a virtual machine. And no, its a language, its not windows.

    If anyone can think on a very popular language created on early 90s, based on a virtual machine whose programmers think they know everything, while they know nothing, that is not JAVA, please post it.

    PD. Pippo, script languages allowed you to do that, from long before java, without so much slowdowns and unnecessary stuff. Just use perl or ruby.
    PD2. >”and garbage collected and stuff” that was the biggest hint. for some reason java coders I know are so proud of the garbage collector. I don’t know why.

  7. Time machine booting, please make your choice from the menu.

    Would you like to go back in time and :

    A: Kill Hitler
    B: Kill CRLF
    C: Kill Java

  8. So guys, what’s the best programming language to learn then?
    This is not a rhetorical question, I am genuinely interested. If you had a complete newbie who said: “I want to learn how to program properly.” what would your advice be?


  9. @Julian: You can start with just about anything — Java, even, though I’d recommend Python — as long as you realize that you’re going to need exposure to a number of programming languages before you’re an expert. Plan to learn a bunch (C, Lisp, assembly, Prolog, Haskell) and get a good bullshit filter working before someone says, “Hey, PowerBuilder is great!” and you buy into it.

  10. Well, if they’re talking about ‘X-Windows’ instead of ‘X’, we can conclude they don’t know anything, so it might not even be a language. It might be WinForms or WOFF or, hell, maybe Windows itself, as an OS which ships with no development tools and an API that’s actively hostile to hobbyist programmers.

  11. Java.

    Without a doubt.

    I mean, it has some whizzy features and all (built-in multi-threading model that I don’t have to do much of anything to use? Neat!) but damn, when you get right down to it, it really is a enormous, incredibly, unbelievably gigantic steaming pile of fail.

    I worked for a startup some years ago that decided to base their business on a Java application for “content providers” and “consumers” (warning bells still ringing to this day). I was tasked writing non-rectangular widgets using the AWT (I know that Sun liked to think of the ‘A’ standing for Advanced, but you can’t convince me it stands for anything other than Assinine, Awkward, or Antagonistic). They wanted non-rectangular widgets with alpha-blending and transparency, and, by God, I delivered it to them. But it was slow as molasses and I had to fight the damn AWT every step of the way. BTW, did I mention that they wanted these widgets to live on top of video streams?

    Needless to say, they aren’t around any more.

    Postscript to this story: Somehow or other, the widget work I did for that company ended up being finagled into being distributed as a part of Sun’s official Java demos bundle. Which was kind of neat (my work lives on!), but also kind of sad (what a waste!).

  12. Ha ha, yeah, people should get back to writing against the metal again. If Infocom kicked my ass in the 80s, I guess I’d be against a VM thirty years later, too. 8)

  13. It’s the Windows operating system itself.

    I’m going a little off topic here, but anyone ever hear of transhumanism? Very scary stuff. It is going to sold as a way to upgrade human consciousness, but it’s really going to be freewill as we know it.

    Why would a complex, human biological processor, that is complex and versatile want to merge with a very restrictive non-biological processor? The answer is that it doesn’t and shouldn’t, because when the singularity happens and we all do merge with computers, freedom is going to be non-existant.

    Sorry for the rant. Peace and Love to ALL.

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