The Long Life of Open Source Code

Doghouse – Code Longevity

Article from Issue 247/2021
Author(s):

As two examples of how open source code can evolve, maddog discusses the long history of text editors and of the RAND message handling system.

Recently I was discussing with friends how long certain pieces of code have lasted … perhaps not exactly the same piece of code, but a recognizable version of the original that has continued to evolve.

One example of this is the simple text editor.

When I started programming, I used 80-column punched cards and the Fortran language. If you made a mistake, you could stick the bad card into a particular slot on the card punch, duplicate the correct part of the card, and then continue typing to complete the statement. It was horrible, but it was all we had.

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