ACM interview of Ichbiah in 1984

I came across this 1984 ACM interview of Jean Ichbiah today and found it an enjoyable and enlightening read. I though @kevlar700 had a page with links of interesting articles and thought I’d add it to that, but I can’t find it right now. Apologies if it’s already posted somewhere.

(The article itself was linked on the Wikipedia page for Jean Ichbiah.)


I knew Ada was meant to replace many languages saving costs but never knew Cobol was mandated or that Ada was designed to reduce code lifetime costs.

"Ada represents the first instance in the history of programming languages of things being done in the right order. That is an important sign of the maturing of this profession. "

What does this mean for the maturity of the profession today. How many languages have been developed in a mature fashion?


I think it means Mr. Ichbiah was being at best overoptimistic about the profession’s maturity, and most likely extremely politic. After all, in the very same article he has to explain why the approach preferred by men like Hoare and Wirth (small, customizably extensible languages) was such a bad idea.

It’s also possible he’s wrong, that that is not the right order after all.

There’s also the possibility that he was, to be impolitic about it, slightly delusional. Elsewhere I’ve read that he predicted that within the decade only Ada and LISP would be in widespread use. Since I haven’t seen the quote, and he comes across as entirely reasonable in this interview – even predicting that newer technologies would eventually replace Ada – I’d like to think that was a joke.

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Super interesting! Coincidentally I am doing some historical research for preparing the first topic of the following tutorial:

Ichbiah was spot on about dialects and too small languages. The mess with Pascal dialects is the perfect illustration of it.

But being the spotlight on the top of the Eiffel Tower won’t make you conquer the world…
For me, the quote that epitomizes this mindset at best is:

"Q. Are you personally satisfied with Ada as it is now?

Ichbiah: Now that we have completed Ada, I must say I am extremely pleased."

I’ll definitely quote that one :slight_smile:

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Around 1990, the need for an Ada revision is likely to
Q. Would you expect that to be a relatively minor
Ichbiah. It is probably too early to say, but I tend to
think it would be a very minor revision.

:grinning: :grinning: