Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How I Came to Write D

Walter Bright:

I went on to implement the C compiler, known as Datalight C. True to my interest in optimization, it was the first on the PC to have a data-flow optimizing compiler. Such a concept was new enough that the compiler got into trouble in the computer magazine benchmarks because the optimizer figured out that the benchmarks did nothing and so deleted all that dead code — the journalist assumed my compiler was broken or cheating and Datalight C got a bad review.


I’ll note here that working on stuff that I needed has fared quite a bit better than working on stuff that I was told others need.

For example, I was out jogging one day with a programmer friend who said, “You know, what the world is desperate for is a Java compiler that generates native code. You’ll make a mint off of that! I use Java and this is really needed.” I told him that, coincidentally, I had written one and he could start using it right away. Of course, he never did.


Whining about perceived problems with existing languages had gone on long enough; I decided to power up the machine shop. When tackling a problem like this, I am always reminded of Gimli the dwarf: “Certainty of death. Small chance of success. What are we waiting for?” Why not? At least I’ll go down sword in hand fighting the glorious fight.

Update (2014-04-09): Bright answers questions on Reddit.

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