The Long Life of Open Source Code

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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