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Good ideas, through the looking glass [computing history]

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1 Author(s)
N. Wirth ; Eidgenossische Tech. Hochschule, Zurich, Switzerland

Computing's history has been driven by many good and original ideas, but a few turned out to be less brilliant than they first appeared. In many cases, changes in the technological environment reduced their importance. Often, commercial factors also influenced a good idea's importance. Some ideas simply turned out to be less effective and glorious when reviewed in retrospect or after proper analysis. Others were reincarnations of ideas invented earlier and then forgotten, perhaps because they were ahead of their time, perhaps because they had not exemplified current fashions and trends. And some ideas were reinvented, although they had already been found wanting in their first incarnation. Given that thorough self-critique is the hallmark of any subject claiming to be a science, computing science cannot help but benefit from a retrospective analysis and evaluation. This led author to the idea of collecting good ideas that looked less than brilliant in retrospect.

Published in:

Computer  (Volume:39 ,  Issue: 1 )