Friday, July 27, 2018

The day I found Python....

It was 21 years ago. 1997. I was at an SGML conference in Boston (http://xml.coverpages.org/xml97Highlights.html). It was the conference where the XML spec. was launched.

Back in those days I mostly coded in Perl and C++ but was dabbling in the dangerous territory known as "write your own programming language"...

On the way from my hotel to a restaurant one evening I took a shortcut and stumbled upon a bookshop. I don't walk past bookshops unless they are closed. This one was open.

I found the IT section and was scanning a shelf of Perl books. Perl, Perl, Perl, Perl, Python, Perl....

Wait! What?

A misfiled book....Name seems familiar. Why? Ah, Henry Thomson. SGML Europe. Munich 1996. I attended Henry's talk where he shows some of his computational linguistics work. At first glance his screen looked like the OS had crashed, but after a little while I began to see that it was Emacs with command shell windows and the command line invocation of scripts, doing clever things with markup, in Python. Very productive setup fusing editor and command line...

I bought the mis-filed Python book in Boston that day and read it on the way home. By the time I landed in Dublin it was clear to me that Python was my programming future.  It gradually replaced all my Perl and C++ and today, well, Python is everywhere.




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