The first time I heard of Perl was in the summer of 1991 when Eric McCaughrin (sp?) was commenting on something I was trying to do in C--he thought Perl would have been a better fit for the problem. (He was right.)
Fast forward to 1996, cobbling together some CGI scripts for Fermilab experiment #872 (see e.g. DONUT), learned Perl 4. Been writing C code in Perl since. :-)
Tangentially, Stanford University physicist Martin Perl won the 1995 Nobel Prize for discovering the tau lepton; the corresponding neutrino was "discovered" by the DONUT experiment.