Languages through time

Languages through time


Mr. Hall will begin with a discussion of "languages through time" and how specific purpose languages (LISP, PROLOG, FORTRAN, COBOL) guided the evolution of programming. He will then explain why bash (the Bourne Again Shell) is the best language for Unix and Linux novices, with command interpreters in general being a "first language".

Complementing Mr. Hall's presentation, Don Davis will provide a brief (10 minute) theoretical and research justification for bash as the first language for novices. This will be followed by 45 minutes of hands-on engagement with worked classroom example utilizing the bash shell, including fun with text, control flow statements, chaining commands, and iteration.

Level of Knowledge:

This is geared towards a broad audience, no prior experience is necessary. Access to a working bash shell is recommended. The bash shell is available by default in GNU/Linux and OSX - and can be added in xBSD and Windows 10. Attendees will walk away with a better understanding of the history of and justification for bash as a language for novices. Additionally, attendees will leave with worked examples that can be leveraged in a classroom setting to engage students with computational thinking and computer science concepts.


Jon "maddog" Hall is the Chairman of the Board for the Linux Professional Institute, and the President of Linux International, an association of computer users that wish to support Free and Open Source Software, Hardware and Culture.  Since 1969, Mr. Hall has been a programmer, systems designer, systems administrator, product manager, technical marketing manager, author and educator both at the university level and to the general public.

Don "gnudon" Davis is an educator and educational researcher. He has taught in K12 and at the university. His research focuses on developing personally relevant and empirically grounded computer science learning trajectories. He has published and presented research in many varied venues, including the Journal of Learning Sciences, the International Journal of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning, and The Analysis of Verbal Behavior.

Experience level


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