This is the story of my life so far: 68 years and counting.
Prequel: A Brief History of my Family in France
The original version of the Ada programming language has been created through an international competition sponsored by the US Department of Defense (DoD).
After a first phase in the competition, four teams of designers were selected to continue the competition, each given a color.
The Green team won the competition and their language design is basically Ada 83.
Jean Ichbiah was very proud of Ada 83, his "baby", and thought that it was almost perfect.
The first reference manuals of Ada 83 were printed with a green cover.
When the DoD decided to sponsor the next revision of the language, they selected a team from Intermetrics, lead by Tucker Taft, to be the designers of what was called initially Ada 9X, that eventually became Ada 95.
Jean Ichbiah was opposed to most of the changes in the language proposed by the design team of Ada 9X. And he was very vocal about it.
In particular, he hated the way object-oriented programming was to be introduced in Ada, through a new reserved word, "tagged", proposed by the design team.
A lot of time during the WG9 meetings was spent on the subject. So, the working group convener decided that during a meeting of the WG9 in Salem, Massachusetts, there will be a vote to decide once for all which of the proposal should be integrated in the language.
So, one morning, there was two presentations, each of an hour and a half, by Jean Ichbiah and Tucker Taft. The subject was not about object-oriented programming, but about new reserved words in the language.
After the presentations, there was a vote by the different country delegations: the question was:
- Should there be new reserved words instead of only new keywords, not reserved, in Ada 9X?
Answering "yes" was a vote for the design team led by Tucker, answering "no" was a vote for Jean's proposal.
Several of the delegations, including the US one, abstained.
The results of the vote was 3 "yes" and 2 "no". Of course, the French delegation voted "no".
However, immediately after the vote, several delegations that had abstained changed their votes to "yes", so that at the end there was a clear consensus for the design team.
The legend says that the Japanese delegation that had voted "yes" wanted to vote for Jean Ichbiah's proposal but had not realized that they should have voted "no".
Immediately after the vote, we broke for lunch. However, Jean Ichbiah told us that he was not going and that he will no longer be involved in Ada.
Losing such a brilliant language designer was a big loss for Ada, but without Jean's involvement, there would be less controversies.
Eventually, Ada 9X was standardized by ISO in 1995 and was known as Ada 95.
And the first printing of the reference manuals of Ada 95 had the title in red on the front cover.
Continue to Part 97
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