GIGO: words unreadable aloud
Mishrogo Weedapeval


  Friday 19 April 2002

I found myself reading Les Orchard's HexOddities wiki page in the "0xDECAFBAD" world. There's a pointer to Why CAFEBABE?, a copy of a thread where Bill Venners asks about the magic identification number in Java .class files. I sent Les and Bill a message with roughly the following couple of paragraphs adding my little bit to that history-mystery:

I worked for Sun from about 1986 until 1995, mostly on debuggers and then C++ compilers. Before Sun purchased Tau Metric, whose code was the basis for the C++ compilers that they have sold since about 1991, we had a small team start to implement a C++ compiler front end (intending to hook it into Sun's common Intermediate Representation). I was the one who came up with the name for that project: "CAFE" as an acronym for "C++, A Front End". (That would have been around 1989, I think.) We only worked on this for a few months before buying Tau Metric, a company who had an already much more complete C++ compiler. When we bought Tau Metric, the project name "Cafe" was kept, but now referred to that compiler project.

Once that compiler was a Sun product, it had to have a marketing person. That person was Kim Polese. I can easily see people describing her as a "babe", and she was the "Cafe" product manager. She later transferred to FirstPerson, the semi-secret Sun subsidiary that developed Oak, that turned into Java.

I believe that Naughton's answer isn't really a complete answer about where the word CafeBabe came from. At any rate, it's Kim that comes to my mind when I think of that term.

Then Dave Winer pointed to a picture of Kim Polese, next to a mention of the 0xCAFEBABE magic number, and to Steve Zellers' readings from the Unix /etc/magic file. That file lists Mike DeMoney as the guy who chose "cafebabe". (Twice. For two different kinds of file.) I suppose this could be a complete coincidence; I guess I ought to try to track down Mike DeMoney and see what he might admit to.

Java history buffs might also be interested in Patrick Naughton's "Long Strange Trip to Java" narrative.
12:14:13 AM   comment/     

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