Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Ithaca Address

A "blast from the past." The following is from William A. Whitaker's talk on "Ada--The Project" at the second History of Programming Languages conference.

I would like to close with a bit of re-creation of history. There was a conference in Cornell in 1976, which was the first time that a group of people who would eventually work on the Ada effort were assembled to address the WOODENMAN requirements at the time, writing a variety of papers, and so on. At the end of the first day of the conference, there was an after-dinner speech that was given by Jim Horning, who some of you may know. At the time he resided in Canada. I think he is in the U.S. now. Here from the proceedings it said, "Just after dinner on the first evening of the workshop, a tall gaunt and bearded man rose quietly and moved toward the front of the hall. He looked tired and worn as though exhausted by his long arduous journey from the night before. As he turned to speak, a hush fell upon the room. And with a soft and solemn voice, he began, 'Four score and seven weeks ago, ARPA brought forth upon this community a new specification conceived in desperation and dedicated to the proposition that all embedded computer applications are equal. Now we are engaged in a great verbal war, testing whether that specification or any specification so conceived and so dedicated can long be endured. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a proceedings of that battle as a final resting place for those papers that here gave their ideas that that specification might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. And now it is for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored papers, we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these papers shall not have been written in vain. That this specification under DoD shall have a new birth of reason and that programming of common problems, by common programmers, in common languages shall not perish from the earth.'"

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