a = "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog"
is called a string. I have always assumed that it was a reference to a
necklace type construct as in (and I can't resist) a "string of perls".
My curiosity has been rekindled due to recent reports (to laypeople like
myself) of the existance of a Khipu code in which the Incans used
knotted strings as a type of binary code to store information. From
Researchers take a fresh look at Incan knotted strings and suggest that
they may have been a written language, one that used a binary code to
store information In the late 16th century, Spanish travelers in central
Peru ran into an old Indian man, probably a former official of the Incan
empire, which Francisco Pizarro had conquered in 1532. The Spaniards saw
the Indian try to hide something he was carrying, according to the
account of one traveler, Diego Avalos y Figueroa, so they searched him
and found several bunches of the cryptic knotted strings known as khipu.
Many khipu simply recorded columns of numbers for accounting or census
purposes, but the conquistadors believed that some contained historical
narratives, religious myths, even poems. In this case, the Indian
claimed that his khipu recorded everything the conquerors had done in
the area, "both the good and evil." The leader of the Spanish party,
Avalos y Figueroa reported, immediately "took and burned these accounts
and punished the Indian" for having them. But although the Spanish
considered khipu dangerous, idolatrous objects and destroyed as many as
they could, scholars have long dismissed the notion that khipu (or
quipu, as the term is often spelled) were written documents.
The rest of the article is worth a read. The analogies are obviously to
delicious to pass up. Is anyone interested in creating a mechanical
"knotted string" parser?
That being said, what is the programming-centric etymology of "string"?
Having been familiar with buffer overflows, I am familiar with the
entymology of said construct :)
Brian Kelley bkelley at wi.mit.edu
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research 617 258-6191