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Steve Bourne talks about the history of sh

Anonymous Coward writes | more than 5 years ago

Programming 0

An anonymous reader writes "Steve Bourne, the creator of the Bourne shell, or sh, talks about its history as the default Unix shell of Unix Version 7. Bourne worked on the shell in 1975 and said the process took no more than 6 months. Sh aimed to improve on the Thompson shell. "I did change the shell so that command scripts could be used as filters. In the original shell this was not really feasible because the standard input for the executing script was the script itself. This change caused quite a disruption to the way people were used to working. I added variables, control flow and command substitution. The case statement allowed strings to be easily matched so that commands could decode their arguments and make decisions based on that. The for loop allowed iteration over a set of strings that were either explicit or by default the arguments that the command was given. I also added an additional quoting mechanism so that you could do variable substitutions within quotes. It was a significant redesign with some of the original flavor of the Thompson shell still there. Also I eliminated goto in favour of flow control primitives like if and for. This was also considered rather radical departure from the existing practice. Command substitution was something else I added because that gives you very general mechanism to do string processing; it allows you to get strings back from commands and use them as the text of the script as if you had typed it directly. I think this was a new idea that I, at least, had not seen in scripting languages, except perhaps LISP," he says."

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