June 7th, 2012

The men who stare at arrays

You may recall my list of non-fiction books I will never write. ( http://celestialweasel.livejournal.com/289802.html was that really 2008?)
One of them was:

"7. A mistake carried to perfection
The title comes from Edsger Dijkstra's quote about the programming language APL. The computing world is full of many strange byways - languages and technologies that have stood the test of time and have enthusiastic adherents but have never made it into the big-time. One of the most bizarre in some ways is APL. In the late 50s its inventor Ken Iverson invented his own notation for teaching mathematics to graduate students, then in the early 60s turned it into a programming language, which in its pure form requires a keyboard with special characters. In some ways it prefigured the spreadsheet, and found particular favour for use in the sort of financial wizardry that has turned out to have served us so well.
The aim of the book would be to provide a technical and sociological history of the language and its use. What does it feel like to be an enthusiastic supporter of a minority language?"

So, I have recently come across this

Catherine Lathwell is attempting to raise money to make a documentary film about APL, she is the daughter of one of the original developers of APL. I think, beyond the family connection, her reasons for finding it interesting as a topic are similar to mine. She has posted some videos which I haven't watched yet.