Perl Creator: “I blew a raspberry into a modem”

Perl, the popular computer programming language, has been revealed to be an elaborate, decades long prank.

“I kinda feel bad! I really expected people to figure it out by now,” stated Perl creator, Larry Wall. “In truth, Perl didn’t even start as a prank. Not really, anyway. Back in 1988, I was using one of those old-school modems where you put the telephone handset on it. I wanted to see what would happen if I picked up the handset and blew a raspberry into it. So I did. A big, wet, loud raspberry.”

“My roommate was walking by, noticed all the garbage characters and line noise on my screen,” the sheepishly amused Wall continued. “He was all like, ‘What the heck are you doing?’. I got embarrassed and blurted out ‘I’m programming! What does it look like, Carl?’ Well. Then, obviously, I had to make an interpreter that would run the mess of characters on the screen. Took me all friggin’ night. Then I uploaded it to a Newsgroup as a joke. The rest is history.”

The first Perl example, named “thpbpb.pl” in honor of that raspberry, has been donated to the Computer History Museum in California.

Here is that first Perl program, in it’s entirety:

Tbe///]st\thpbpbpb/]|||anUgt\\

Bryan Lunduke

Former Deputy Editor for Linux Journal magazine. Former Technology Journalist for Network World. Former VP of Technology. Former Linux Marketing Director. Former Dishwasher.