[SIGCIS-Members] Query: Babel metaphor

Nofre Mateo, David D.NofreMateo at uva.nl
Wed Feb 10 04:11:31 PST 2010

Dear colleagues, 

I am trying to chart the use of the Babel metaphor in the history of programming languages. Particularly, I am curious about the use of the visual metaphor. But I am a bit stuck with some basic factual information about the circumstances of the following two images : 

1) The now famous cover of the issue of January 1961 of the Communications of the ACM is a obvious point of departure. I know that Alan J. Perlis was the editor at that time of the journal, but I cannot find any information related to the production of the picture (author, source, etc.). 

2) The second picture is the supposedly ‘first’ language history chart, which appeared in Jean E. Sammet, “Programming languages: history and future”, Comm. of ACM, 15, July 1972. According to Sammet,  she got the idea from Christopher J. Shaw’s article “Milestones in Computer Programming”, published in SIGPLAN Notices February 1965. But I have been unable to find any issue online or printed copy in the libraries in the Netherlands of the SIGPLAN Notices before August 1966, which it appears in all the collections as the first issue. Does anybody know about Shaw’s article?

I would appreciate any information about these two images. 

Thank you very much.

David Nofre

David Nofre, PhD
Program of History of Computing 
Informatics Institute - Faculty of Science 
University of Amsterdam
Science Park 107 1098 XG Amsterdam 
d.nofremateo at uva.nl 

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