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Title: "The standardization of programming languages"
Author: Franz L Alt
Source: Proceedings of the 1964 19th ACM national conference, Pages: 22.1 - 22.6
Publication Date: 1964
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Reads: 5467
Abstract: Standardization in the computer field has been under discussion for at least ten years; and for the last four or five years, concrete efforts in this direction have been under way, centered in the American Standards Association. Yet even today there is no clear-cut answer to the question whether or when or to what extent standardization in this field is desirable. Work is being done on standardizing of both hardware and software; and in the latter area, it ranges from the smallest units to the largest programming languages. Why should there still be so much difference of opinion on the value of standards? As a staff member of the National Bureau of Standards I know from daily experience that in most fields of technology standardization is an unmixed blessing. Things are not nearly so simple in the field of computer languages. Whatever the advantages of standardizing one or a few computer languages, we pay a heavy price for it. But we also pay a price for failing to standardize, or standardizing too late. And the heaviest penalty of all is for standardizing prematurely or on the wrong language. Between these conflicting tendencies we have to try to reach an optimum compromise. But what is optimum depends on the viewpoint. There are a few persons who are flatly opposed to any standardization of programming languages at this time. Many more agree that some amount of standardization is now desirable, but in varying degrees and with varying safeguards. What seems best to the user does not seem best to the producer of computers, and what is best for one particular company is contrary to the interest of all other companies.
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