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Technology repeats itself

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If you want to know what will be the next big thing in software development, a good bet is to look at our past. And not just immediate past, but achingly ancient times.

Consider the current trend in programming paradigms - the onset of functional programming. The highlight of Java 8 was the addition of functional features like lambdas. Groovy, Scala and Clojure - the 3 most popular alternate JVM languages - all market the inclusion of functional programming to various degrees as their selling point. But functional programming is not new. Before Dahl and Nygaard gave birth to OOP in Simula, John McCarthy gave us functional programming in the form of Lisp. And this was way back in 1958!

Non-relational databases, or their more popular name - NoSQL, existed before Codd introduced Relational theory. Persistent key-value pairs made their appearance in 1979, in the form of dbm by none other than Ken Thompson himself. If you squint hard enough, you can even find similarities between Multivalue (Pick) style databases and modern document stores.

There is a pattern to be seen in all of this. When two competitive technologies fight it out for market share, one is bound to win. The other is forgotten by the next decade, and rediscovered around two or three decades later.

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