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The knife and the axe

The knife and the axe are considered to be the most important inventions in human history with reagards to how it developed into what we are today. (By historians anyway)

This is an interesting thing to debate in it self, but id like to know what you think are the most important inventions in software?

My gut response is the compiler and the texteditor. Do you agree?

Eric DeBois
Thursday, December 04, 2003

The pointer

chuck
Thursday, December 04, 2003

It depends on what you mean by important and to whom.  For example, it is unlikely we would have spreadsheets without a compiller, so are compilers more important?  One step back then, without machine language you cannot have compilers.  So is machine language the greatest? 

Few people, relative the number using computers use compilers or text editors.    But like the axe and the knife, without them other things are not possible. 

I think we are still too early in the process to know yet.  Ask me again in 240,000 years.  Hopefully, I will be around to answer.

MSHack
Thursday, December 04, 2003

I'd say that the metal extraction and smelting process was the most important invention, and the creation of the knife and the axe was a natural, and obvious, invention from it.

Dennis Forbes
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Hmmm... knives and axes certainly predate the use of metal...

John C.
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Lara, of course.

Ian Sanders
Thursday, December 04, 2003

I still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

Kevin
Thursday, December 04, 2003

CVS

Lou
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Any nation that invented the equivalent today would be attacked for developing weapons of mass destruction.

Tapiwa
Thursday, December 04, 2003

A knife and an axe are basically the same thing.

I would much rather have a knife and some fire.

For some reason, this is very instinctive to young boys, but their mothers never seem to understand.

As far as computer are concerned, a lot of people marvel at all the things they can do. This demonstrates a complete lack of understanding. They only do one thing which is move bits around.

The true marvel is our ability to transpose so many physical problems into patterns of bits with some relation to the problem at hand, move them around, and then come up with an answer that is actually relevant.

But hey, if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

Andy in Austin
Thursday, December 04, 2003

The stack.

sgf
Thursday, December 04, 2003

The GUI.

ice
Thursday, December 04, 2003

The paperclip.

T.S.
Thursday, December 04, 2003

SimCity classic.

they should have stopped inventing after that.

Tapiwa
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Formal logic, a la Frege, Russell, et. al.

Seriously.

Mongo
Thursday, December 04, 2003

ROM


Thursday, December 04, 2003

The 1 and the O.

Charles Babbage
Thursday, December 04, 2003


The monitor or terminal.  There is no way I would use one if I had to punch everything into paper cards. 

Name withheld out of cowardice
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Stack. GUI. Pancakes.

Ian Sanders
Thursday, December 04, 2003

* The quad expresso & midnight oil.

Ian Sanders
Thursday, December 04, 2003

CharlesB. I think the 0 is more important.

We take it for granted now, but life as we know it would not exist if we had not grasped 'zero'.

http://www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/HistTopics/Zero.html

Tapiwa
Thursday, December 04, 2003

The backspace key.

Bruce Perry
Thursday, December 04, 2003

undelete

Tapiwa
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Solitaire

Ricardo Antunes da Costa
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Mini skirt

Politically correct
Thursday, December 04, 2003

My vote goes for the OS. Imagine if you had to build all that functionality you get "for free" with the OS -- imagine if you had to build it yourself. I don't know how the old-timers did it before the OS.

Sgt. Sausage
Thursday, December 04, 2003

It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion,
It is by the beans of Java that thoughts acquire speed,
The hands acquire shaking, the shaking becomes a warning,
It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion.


Coffee has got to be the best invention in the history of software!

diddley-doodley
Thursday, December 04, 2003

After 0 and 1, it has to be the bootstrap. The OS is a logical extension.

(not quite old enough to have toggled in bootstrap machine code)

pdq
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Stock options!

Stuck in 1998
Thursday, December 04, 2003

The virtual machine/framework.

Andrew Cherry
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Wasteland (old late 80s x86 game and the reason I'm a programmer)

Jack of all
Thursday, December 04, 2003

The calculator -- because it showed what was possible

Code Monkey
Thursday, December 04, 2003

I take it back - the miniskirt's definitely more important than 1 and O.

Charles Babbage
Thursday, December 04, 2003

I'm going to have to take a "importance to society" view on this and say:

1. The Internet
Computers are great and can do amazing things, but until the internet, most of those things were "what I could do myself, only faster" like spreadsheets, games, and word processing. Now the computer has become an important information gathering & communication tool, the implication of which we're still grapplin with. This is "Guttenberg printing press" big, and without the printing press, the Protestant Revolution (Luther's ideas were very popular & widely published) and the American Revolution probably wouldn't have happened, or at least not on the scale they did.

2. PGP
Without computers, I don't think "in the clear secure communications" would really be possible. With PGP you can share not only the encrypted message publicly, but the key you use to encrypt it as well. And that this level of encryption & authentication is available to just about every human on the planet is pretty amazing. I'm sure there's a supercomputer out there somewhere that can decrypt "on the fly" (why is it everyone talks about your home PC and dictionary attacks when they say how secure these things are?) PGP, but I'm also sure that there's encryption based on supercomputer capabilities to counter that. What's important is that I can send love letters to my mistress without my wife sniffing the network stream and decoding them.

As far a important inventions in history, I'd put Money and The Pushup Bra fairly high on my list.

www.MarkTAW.com
Friday, December 05, 2003

I must be tired... lot of type-o's in there.

www.MarkTAW.com
Friday, December 05, 2003

Of course, Mark, your wife can do a search on your name and find you posting about your mistress on Joel's :)

As for the most important single invention relating to computing, that is indeed the tough one.

Coffee 8-}

On the serious side, I think I'll have to nominate Pong. I think little has done more to drive the development of consumer computing technology than video games, and Pong is the father of all those games.

I think that the development of the machine is important, but I also think that video games were a newer idea than computing machines, which have been around for hundreds of years.

Almost anythning could be argued here. I'm not sure if I like that or not.

Mike Swieton
Friday, December 05, 2003

The pixel

Jack
Friday, December 05, 2003

City Desk.

give me a break will ya?
Friday, December 05, 2003

I concure with politically correct. That's the biggest invention of all. Something to die and fight for.

Utopia is a place where no moron exists
Friday, December 05, 2003

1. unix & C language

2. Macintosh Computer : starting and setting the race for bringing computers to the reach of common people.

3. Internet

mrc
Saturday, December 06, 2003

The Great VI Editor

vi guy
Saturday, December 06, 2003

Assembly language. MOV over, miniskirts.

Dashiell Dunn
Saturday, December 06, 2003

"I can send love letters to my mistress without my wife sniffing the network stream and decoding them."

All the encryption in the world won't stop someone from then posting about this along with his domain name that leads to his address on King's Highway and his wife's phone number...

Social Engineering trumps all Encryption
Saturday, December 06, 2003

Congradulations, you were able to look up publicly available information. I would be threatened if I actually had a wife, or a mistress, but I don't. I bet you didn't sneak a peek at the code on my website where I also list the latitude and longitude of this address.

Here's another use for Public Key Encryption that none of you geniuses seems to have been able to figure out. e-Commerce.

You wouldn't be able to buy Joel's Book of the Month from Amazon if SSL didn't exist. The fact that you can establish a trusted relationship between two computers and communicate that way, while exchanging all of your information in the clear is the foundation of all secure transactions on the web.

This allows you to type in your password without someone sniffing the traffic, or to check your bank account from your home computer.

And it allows you to send an e-mail to your co-worker that your boss can't read.

www.MarkTAW.com
Sunday, December 07, 2003

I much agree, I like fire and axes.but in all reality I like monkeys and food

anonymous
Friday, April 16, 2004

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