back to article Eric Raymond revisits his biggest mistake, updates 'Pilot' language after 20 years

Software luminary Eric Raymond has written an update to his Pilot computer aided instruction language … 20 years since he last bothered looking at it. What was Pilot? According to Wikipedia, it was a precursor to LOGO: a computer-aided instruction program (its full name was Programmed Instruction, Learning, or Teaching). Even …

  1. wolfetone Silver badge

    "That's enough time to build a Cathedral, never mind a patch"

    Not if you're in Barcelona mate.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Pretty sure there are a lot more cathedrals in the world that took much longer than 20 years to build. (I seem to recall a story about one in france that took over 100 years)

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        I know, but the one in Barcelona will have taken 144 years by the time it's supposed to be completed in 2026

        1. AMBxx Silver badge

          Is a Cathedral ever finished?

      2. Knewbie

        there's a saying in french :

        that goes " Je ne vais pas attendre 107 ans" (" I'm not going to wait 107 years")

        Which is the time Paris' Notre Dame cathedral took to be built ^^

      3. CRConrad

        Cologne: 632 years

        1248 - 1880. (OK, there was a hiatus of a few centuries in the middle.)

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      Or Milan. I believe that the Duomo still holds the record, having been started in medieval times and finished in the 1960s.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        The Duomo was started in the XIV century, and was "finished" in the XIX century, with the completion of the facade, but, actually, some stained glass windows and statues are still being added. Also, the Duomo was built almost in the same place of the old cathedral, thereby the latter had to be demolished while the former was built, but because the need of not stopping wholly the services, or move them elsewhere, it was done step-by-step, leading to some strange "intermediate" configurations...

        In the XX century, anyway, a lot of restoration work became necessary, which still continues.

        Anyway, many medioeval cathedrals took centuries to be completed, because of the sheer size of the projects, the costs, the events that stopped the construction for a while.

    3. richardcox13

      > Barcelona

      Barcelona's Cathedral was completed centuries ago.

      Do you mean Sagrada Família? But that's not (nor going to be) a cathedral.

  2. x 7

    Eric Raymond?

    Wasn't he the chap behind the Reviewbar in London? Seems a strange place to do programming at

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Er, no

      That was Paul Raymond. No, there's a biography film about him, that I heard about.

  3. John Hughes

    Software luminary?

    He "maintained" the Jargon file and wrote an article or two, but "Software luminary" is a bit much.

    1. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: Software luminary?

      "An article or two" is a curious way of describing The Cathedral and The Bazaar", which is the quintessential distributed open source manifesto that has shaped the open source world.

      Bit like saying Marx, pfft, he wrote a few pamphlets.

      1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

        Re: Software luminary?

        Apart from writing "The Cathedral and The Bazaar", he has two claims to fame that I'm aware of:

        - he wrote fetchmail, which lets you retrieve mail from an external server. This is a useful tool if you run a local mailserver but don't want to punch holes in your firewall to let it receive mail. Unfortunately, fetchmail has long-standing, wont-fix bugs. As a result many/most of its users, including myself, have switched to getmail, which does the same job but without the bugs.

        - he designed, built and flies the Sunseeker series of solar-powered, self-launching aircraft.

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: Software luminary?

          He's also a notorius gun-nut and sent this to Bruce Perens

          Damn straight I took it personally. And if you ever again behave like that kind of disruptive asshole in public, insult me, and jeopardize the interests of our entire tribe, I'll take it just as personally -- and I will find a way to make you regret it. Watch your step.

          Quite the charmer.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Software luminary?

            > He's also a notorius gun-nut and sent this to Bruce Perens

            Ideologically, both in software development and on social and political issues, he and I are about as far apart as one could be, yet that was never a problem and I can unreservedly say that it was a pleasure to cooperate with him in certain projects years ago.

        2. Eddy Ito Silver badge

          Re: Software luminary?

          - he designed, built and flies the Sunseeker series of solar-powered, self-launching aircraft.

          Actually that's Eric Scott Raymond who is part of Solar Flight. I don't believe there is a relation with Eric Steven Raymond who wrote "The Cathedral and The Bazaar".

          1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

            Re: Software luminary?

            Noted. Thanks - didn't realise there are two Eric S Raymonds.

        3. dlc.usa

          Re: Software luminary?

          "From the late 1990s onward, due in part to the popularity of his essay, Raymond became a prominent voice in the open source movement." Hence, luminary. Maybe that was before your time.

          He has writen dozens of essays/books, including "The Art of UNIX Programming", "Homesteading the Nooshpere", and that short UNIX newbie gem, "The Loginataka" (

          Visit to go to the source.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Software luminary?

          > he has two claims to fame that I'm aware of:

          For many years he was, and perhaps he still is, the project manager of gpsd. You may not have heard of it, but you have certainly used it.

          Interesting chap, Raymond.

        5. BigFire

          Re: Software luminary?

          Well, if he didn't step in during the initial phase of name resolution design, we'd be in far far worse shape. Back then it's just host table forwarding from one machine to another.

    2. BigFire

      Re: Software luminary?

      Lets see, he's the one that points out the original implementation of DNS is a clusterfuck.

  4. VinceH Silver badge

    "And if you're aware of a longer software refresh cycle, you know where we are."


    WebChange: Around eight years from deciding it needed to be rewritten until actually releasing a beta in 2010. Technically, though, I was working on it on and off/now and then throughout those eight years. Ahem. And I still need to write a manual. (I did make a start... a few years ago!)

    Trellis: I think the last release version was mid-1990s, and I updated it in 2007 when I wrote a new, quick and simple game with it - so about 12/13 years. The game (Quicksand) is available, but not the updated Trellis per se.

    So, yeeeaaaah. I'm terrible for finding round tuits to update old (or even current) software - but I've never taken quite that long.

  5. tony2heads

    I love the disclaimer



    Don't blame me for the language design; I think it's wretched, too,

    and I only did this implementation for the hack value. Finally, a

    *real* language that's as perverse and limiting as INTERCAL...


    I have never seen better.

  6. Paul Johnston

    Perl 6

    Does perl 6 count?

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