The code of most of the standard modules was originally written for Perl 5.0, possibly before that.
That's certainly not true. The uncompressed sources of 5.0
are approx. 5 Mb. 5.8.0 clocks in at over 53 Mb, which is
almost a doubling of 5.6.1 (less than 28 Mb). The increase
is size between 5.8.0 and 5.8.1-RC4 is about 5 Mb, the size
of the 5.0 distribution.
Sure, not everything
in the distribution is modules, but it does show the explosion
of modules in the standard distribution.
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