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Subject: Re: Capitalization within words
From: Joel Neely <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:TYPO-L Discussion of Type and Typographic Design <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 12 Apr 1996 08:53:47 -0500
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> > I'd like to know where mid-word capitalizations did come from, then.
> > I know they've been popularized by techies spelling every little thing
> > with a capital in the middle of a compound word.
 
As far back as the mid-70's (roughly 1974, I think), the use of initial-
letter capitalization to signal the start of a new word in a compound was
used in Smalltalk.  I believe the convention to be the result of the
following:
 
1)  Most programming languages did not (and most still do not) allow names
    of things to contain embedded blanks.
 
2)  The ambiguity of natural language often requires that word boundaries
    be identified for correct interpretation (e.g., consider the meanings
    of HeIsNowHere vs. HeIsNowhere).
 
3)  Using a either a blank or a designated non-blank character (such as
    hyphen or underscore) occupies additional storage (which programmers
    have been trained to regard as a precious resource, thanks to the
    hardware limitations of early designs).  Additionally, using a non-
    blank requires retraining the hands, and awkward typing effort (think
    of how the standard QWERTY layout makes the space bar much easier to
    hit than the hyphen or underscore).
 
The fact that this stylistic quirk was both imitated and ridiculed in other
(non-programming) environments is just another symptom of the love/hate
relationship that western civilization [sic] has with technology and people
who do technical work.  This even extends to using terms of ridicule (techie,
geek, etc.) to identify people who work in, or have interest in, technical
fields.
 
> I first came across capitals in words in the computer environment, using
> the computer language Hypertalk...
 
A significant event in the genesis of the Macintosh was a visit by Steve
Jobs to Xerox PARC, the home of Smalltalk and the Star workstation.  Much
Mac software (Classcal, Object Pascal, and Hypertalk) has genetic roots in
Smalltalk.
 
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-jn- (my own opinions; don't blame anybody else, including my employer)
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