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Re: How long have you been using Perl?

by blue_cowdawg (Monsignor)
on May 09, 2004 at 14:35 UTC ( #351838=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to How long have you been using Perl?

When I answer the question "how long have you been using Perl" folks often times don't believe me. There are folks out there that think Perl is only a few years old.

My first introduction to Perl was when I worked for a very small semiconductor manufacturer that went out of business in the late eighties. It also conincides with my first introduction to UUCP and the Usenet. It is one of my earliest memories having to do with Unix System Administration and actually writing scripts and programs on the platform. I was responsible at the time for the care and feeding of an HP 9000 Model 840, and HP 9000 Model 820 and a wealth of HP9000 Model 3x0 systems all running early releases HPUX. Not to mention HP's bastard step child the HP 9000 Model 500 that we had in one of our labs.

Over a 2400 baud modem connection to the University of Rutgers I read the newsgroups on USENET that had anything to do with programming in Unix, any source code for "neat" stuff for Unix and I learned at a frightening rate the trade of being a Unix professional.

Well one day a set of "shar" files caught my attention and I remembered reading a news article in one of the USENET groups about this thing called "Perl." and how it would revolutionize Unix scripting. In unpacked/assembled/decoded the shar files (actually they were unencoded/compressed/shar files that were split IIRC) and ran Configure accepted defaults and it refused to compile. Lots of errors. Asked around the news groups and within a couple of days /usr/local/bin on my system (and other directories) had pieces of Perl installed in them.

The first thing I noticed about the language was that I could stop piping one command to another to cut to awk to sed to.... oh you get the idea. I then went on a campaign of converting all my existing shell scripts to Perl and I haven't looked back since. I still write the occasional bash script but 99.999999% of my scripts are now in Perl.

And that was a long time ago this all happened....

Excerpt from the timeline of Perl:


UUNET is founded with Usenix funds to provide commercial
 UUCP and Usenet access. Originally an experiment by 
Rick Adams and Mike O'Dell

    Hmm, doubtful. The source code generally wasn't there when I needed it.
    -- Larry Wall when asked if he learned Perl from the perl source

Perl 1.000 is unleashed upon the world. Some People 
take Perls' Birthday seriously. Behold as Randal sings 
Happy Birthday to Larrys' answering machine. The 
description from the original man page sums up this 
new language well. (18 December)

		perl | Practical Extraction and Report Language

    	perl options filename args

     	Perl is a interpreted language optimized for scanning  arbi-
     	trary  text  files,  extracting  information from those text
     	files, and printing reports based on that information.  It's
     	also  a good language for many system management tasks.  The
     	language is intended to be practical  (easy  to  use,  effi-
     	cient,  complete)  rather  than  beautiful  (tiny,  elegant,
     	minimal).  It combines (in  the  author's  opinion,  anyway)
     	some  of the best features of C, sed, awk, and sh, so people
     	familiar with those languages should have little  difficulty
     	with  it.  (Language historians will also note some vestiges
     	of csh, Pascal, and  even  BASIC|PLUS.)   Expression  syntax
     	corresponds  quite  closely  to C expression syntax.  If you
     	have a problem that would ordinarily use sed or awk  or  sh,
     	but  it exceeds their capabilities or must run a little fas-
     	ter, and you don't want to write the silly thing in C,  then
     	perl  may  be  for  you.  There are also translators to turn
     	your sed and awk scripts  into  perl  scripts.   OK,  enough

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