Open source guru Eric Raymond turns 60 this year, prompting this question from an anonymous reader:
Eric Raymond’s newest writing project is “Things Every Hacker Once Knew,” inspired by the day he learned that not every programmer today’s knows the bit structure of ASCII. “I didn’t write it as a nostalgia trip — I don’t miss underpowered computers, primitive tools, and tiny low-resolution displays… In any kind of craft or profession, I think knowing the way things used to be done, and the issues those who came before you struggled with, is quite properly a source of pride and wisdom. It gives you a useful kind of perspective on today’s challenges.”
He writes later that it’s to “assist retrospective understanding by younger hackers so they can make sense of the fossils and survivals still embedded in current technology.” It’s focusing on ASCII and “related technologies” like hardware terminals, modems and RS-232. (“This is lore that was at one time near-universal and is no longer.”) Sections include “UUCP and BBSes, the forgotten pre-Internets” and “The strange afterlife of the Hayes smartmodem” (which points out some AT commands survived to this day in smartphones). He requests any would-be contributors to remember that “I’m trying to describe common knowledge at the time.” This got my thinking — what are some that every programmer once knew that have since been forgotten by newer generations of programmers?
Eric Raymond is still hard at work today on the NTPsec project — a secure, hardened, and improved implementation of Network Time Protocol — and he promises donations to his Patreon page will help fund it. But what things do you remember that were commonplace knowledge “back in the day” that have now become largely forgotten? Leave your best answers in the comments. What are some things that every hacker once knew?
Read more of this story at Slashdot.