One of the best things about working on a project like Command Line Heroes is that you get to learn a lot in the process. For example, while working on season three of Command Line Heroes (launching today!) we discovered a number of fun facts about programming languages that even we didn't know before.

PRINT "We're gonna need a bigger boat"

For many of us of a certain vintage, BASIC was our introduction to computer programming. While BASIC is not regarded as a particularly elegant or robust programming language, it holds the distinction of introducing many people to programming during the first wave of home PCs.

What most of us didn't realize is that there's a direct line between BASIC and many classic films. BASIC was developed on the GE-225, a mainframe computer designed by Arnold Spielberg. If that last name seems familiar, it's because Arnold is the father of Steven Spielberg - director of Jaws, E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Close Encounters and many others.

There's no evidence Steven ever considered a career as a programmer, but we do know that BASIC was Yukihiro Matsumoto's introduction to programming. Matsumoto, of course, went on to invent the Ruby programming language that is still very much in use today.

Shell and back again

Bash, an acronym for "Bourne-again Shell," is the default shell for many Linux distributions, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Command line, um, heroes know that the Bash shell was written by Brian Fox as part of the GNU (GNU's Not Unix) Project's replacement for the Bourne Shell.

We're not sure if it was reverence or mischief, or a mix of the two, but we learned in recording this season that Fox eventually gave Bourne Shell creator Stephen Bourne a "Bourne Again" t-shirt to celebrate his creation's legacy...one might even call it a Bourne Legacy?

Origin stories

There's usually a story behind every programming language's creation. We found in talking to Guido van Rossum, creator of the Python programming language, that Python was originally designed to bridge the gap between C and shell programming.

The C programming language might not have existed if FORTRAN had been a better systems programming language. Ken Thompson initially considered FORTRAN as the language for UNIX, but thought better of it. We're all quite happy he did.

LISP, on the other hand, we found had originated with a thought experiment about a fictional program called "the advice taker." And Go was designed to be "the language of the cloud."

Cash and carry

Our favorite fun fact from this season? While "new" tends to grab attention, legacy technologies keep ticking along way after most people would think. Case in point? We learned that 95% of ATM transactions rely on COBOL code. Think about that the next time you're grabbing some quick cash!

But that's not all we learned. Confused? You won't be after the next episode of Command Line Heroes. Check it out today! If you're new to Command Line Heroes, you can binge them right now starting with season one on some of the most popular podcast services or directly at the source.

Of interest

News to note—just for you