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Additional info for ACM Turing Award Lectures : The First Twenty Years : 1966 to 1985 (ACM Press Anthology Series)
Because that was a unique machine, he knew only too well that his programs had only local significance, and also because it was patently obvious that this machine would have a limited lifetime, he knew that very little of his work would have a lasting value. , he was faced with a pinching shoe, while on the other hand its usually somewhat queer order code would cater for the most unexpected constructions. And in those days many a clever The Humble Programmer 19 programmer derived an immense intellectual satisfaction from the cunning tricks by means of which he contrived to squeeze the impossible into the constraints of his equipment.
I am painf`ully aware of the arbitrariness of my choice, and I beg you not to draw any conclusions with regard to my appreciation of the many effort s that will have to remain unmentioned. In the beginning there was the EDSAC in Cambridge, England, and I think it quite impressive that right from the start the notion of a subroutine library played a central role in the design of that machine and of the way in which it should be used. It is now nearly 25 years later and the computing scene has changed dramatically, but the notion of basic software is still with us, and the notion of the closed subroutine is still one of the key concepts in programming.
The latter opinion was the r-esuIt of the frequent circumstance that, indeed, the available equipment was a painfully pinching shoe, and in those days one often encountered the naive expectation that, once more powerful machines were avai able, programming would no longer be a problem, for then the struggle to push the machine to its limits would no longer be necessary and that was all that programming was about, wasn't it? But in the next decades something completely different happened: more powerful machines became available, not just an order of magnitude more powerful, even several orders of magnitude more powerful.