Semi-Automated Programming

John K Clark (
Tue, 13 Jan 1998 20:54:58 -0800 (PST)


On Tue, 13 Jan 1998 (David A Musick) Wrote:

>a form of semi-automated programming software. Basically, this
>would be a very high-level programming language which could help the
>programmer do in little time what previously took hours of coding.
> [...] tools like these will likely get rid of much of the more
>boring aspects of computer programming, which are boring because
>they require very little thought and could be better done by a

That's been the goal from day one and a lot of progress has been made, but
the trouble is that as our programming tools get smarter our ambition gets
larger too and we write more complex programs, so it never gets any easier.

In 1946 with the original "Eniac" if you wanted to change the program you had
to change the plugs in a vast patch panel. Turing's "Colossus" built earlier
didn't even have a path panel, you had to get out your soldering gun.
A programmer didn't write code, he wrote about what wire should go where.
Later when computers had stored programs you could get rid of the patch
panel, but you still had no high level computer language, or even a decent
assembler, so you had to have detailed knowledge of every aspect of the
hardware you were writing for, the sort of knowledge only circuit designers
worry about now, and everything you wrote was in zeros and ones. Needless to
say programs were very simple by today's standards. All these tasks still
need to done, but now a machine does the job and we can just forget about
them. Imagine if today a programmer was confronted with a patch panel the
size of the Himalayas and told to change the patches so the machine acted
like Windows NT. It could not be done.

John K Clark

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