The right decision at the right time…

Pivotal moments in computing, where a minor design change would have changed things for the better.

1. LF rather than CRLF in MSDOS text files (decades of “is this a text file or a binary file?”)

2. ‘-‘ rather than ‘/’ as standard MSDOS command option switch (so we can use ‘/’ in path names)

3. 256 byte paragraph size in 808x processor (instead of 16 bytes, 16MB address space for early OSs). [16K would have been LOTS better]

4. Built-in string / dynamic char[] data type in C (NOT limited to 255 characters like Pascal [barf])

5. Collection classes in the first release of C++

6. Standardize Unicode in 1975 or so. Early, anyway

7. LISP-like syntax for SQL (easily parsable). Non-broken fixed-size data types.  Flexible variable-sized data.  Hardly rocket science.

8. XML committee struck by lightning. “Huh. Maybe s-expressions will do the job after all.”

9. X.509 committee disappears mysteriously. “I guess we need something simple now.”

10. [late 70s] “You know, maybe SMTP needs some security, I think junk mail might be a problem someday.  Let’s add some authentication.”


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