BeOpen.com: BeOpen Interview with Guido van Rossum

"BeOpen: There seems to be this evolution of complexity with computer languages. As the technology gets more powerful, the languages become more ambitious. How does Python compare to the languages that preceded it: C, C++, Cobol and Algol?

Van Rossum, a 44-year-old developer who spent much of his collegiate and post-collegiate years working with instructional software languages such as ABC and Pascal, freely admits that it was his annoyance with these languages' real-word performance that drove him to create Python.

"Guido: It's more complex and less complex at the same time. In a sense, there is more complexity involved in implementing the language, but there is less complexity from the language user's point of view

"What's happening is that languages have been evolving away from a machine model that is very close to the hardware. At the hardware level, there isn't much more than memory which is addressed by pointers. Memory can contain any type of data, and it's up to the programmer to decide which piece of memory is stored in which kind of data. If you make a mistake there, you can overwrite your own data or someone else's data, which isn't good. Languages like C or Fortran impose things on the memory location like "this piece of memory contains an integer, this contains a floating point and this contains a string."

This article was originally published on May 31, 2000
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