Sunday, September 13, 2015 at 9:45 AM

Why can't we run software that was written 25 years ago?

I would like to write software that people can run 100 years from now. Clearly that's not going to happen.

Ward Cunningham tells a story about how he wrote Hypercard apps for his kids as bedtime stories. He would love to be able to run that software today, share it with his kids and grandkids. But there's no way to run it. He says this is wrong. I agree, emphatically.

We can still play music written by people who lived in the 1700s. You can visit buildings that were built 500 or more years ago, and use them the more or less way they were originally designed to be used. But for some reason we can't run software written 25 years ago. Technically, if we wanted to develop in a way that made this possible, we could. But each generation apparently believes there's not enough value in the software written by previous generations. Which probably has something to do with why so much know-how is lost every decade or so.

This originated in a Facebook thread started by Doug Purdy.

PS: Look at this thread about Turbo Pascal for an idea of how much interest there is in the idea of running software that was written not so long ago. When I posted the link, I had no idea the kind of response it would get. Turbo Pascal was wonderful. And they didn't invent new syntax. A very important concept.

Last built: Thu, Sep 17, 2015 at 4:33 PM

By Dave Winer, Sunday, September 13, 2015 at 9:45 AM. When in doubt, blog.