Friday, January 4, 2008

Fifty Years of the Communications of the ACM

The ACM is celebrating 50 years of the Communications of the ACM this month. The first issue came out way back in January 1958 with just 20 pages. That issue contained articles about computing square-roots and programming a binary counter for the IBM Type 650 calculator. That was no tiny handheld calculator.

Computing has come a long way in those 50 years that no one even thinks about the content in that first issue! However there are still some gems from the early years of computing that maintain their relevance and provide insights into the Art of Computing. One such example, is the Letter to the Editor of the CACM by Edsger Dijkstra in 1968 entitled "Go To Statement Considered Harmful". That letter sparked a debate that goes on to this date. Whatever be one's point of view about "go to", it is a beautiful insight into the Art of Computing, a dying art that today's programmers are sadly no longer in touch with.

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