By danx on May 02, 2006
The term cookies in computerspeak refers to a "token" of information passed among software. It was first used with the UNIX® Portable C Compiler (PCC). Later, the term was used for video terminal software and web browsers. Anyway, here's the story of the origin of cookies from Steve Johnson, author of PCC at Bell Labs:
From uucp Tue Nov 20 00:19 EST 1984 remote from hcr From research!grigg!scj Mon Nov 19 18:18:22 1984 remote from decvax Return-Path:
Received: by decvax-DOT-UUCP (4.12/1.0) id AA04471; Mon, 19 Nov 84 18:18:22 est Date: Mon, 19 Nov 84 18:18:22 est Message-Id: <8411192318.AA04471-AT-decvax.UUCP> Re: cookies Apparently-To: hcr!hugh
And why not go to the source???
The term "cookie" in conjunction with software was coined by Bob Morris about 1974 when dealing with the Indian Hill IBM TSS system. He complained that you always had to "feed the system a cookie to keep it happy whenever it snarled at you".
Originally, cookies in PCC had a very similar function; most of the time, the code generator tried to put values in registers, but occasionally (and without much rhyme or reason) it had to compute condition codes or side effects only. These exceptions were controlled by a word full of flags that seemed to have no real meaning, but the bits were ocassionally eaten by demanding if statements; thus, by analogy, this function argument became a cookie (besides, I had long since run out of synonyms for "type" or "variety").
As PCC evolved, cookies became more and more like "goals" in the AI sense, and (after dozens of inquiries and bad jokes) I changed the name to "goal" in my own version several years ago. I don't know whether cookies survive in the official version to this day, but I'm pretty sure that they are gone from PCC2.
Please send this on as desired...
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