The ENIGMA Story
Once upon a time, 40 years ago, there was a Dream.
A Dream: where computers could be made to program themselves.
A Dream; where an explanation to the computer of what was to be done, when it should be done and how it should be done, would be sufficient to cause system creation.
A somewhat crazy Dream, in the days of punch cards, punch paper tape, air-conditioned rooms, false floors and cables as thick as your wrist. A big computer had 256 K of memory and disc storage was in cabinets as large as a washing machine and onto solid discs larger than an LP record. What a crazy Dream to have at the time!
The Dream was spawned by the promotion of Data Dictionaries. The “science” of computing, which some thought was more of an “art”, was just taking hold as the industry realised that manual control of the created systems was very difficult and prone to error: errors, which made comprehending the consequences of changing a system almost impossible. Data Dictionaries were an attempt to document systems so as to control some of the problem. But that was all they did: Document! Just another thing to be done, without any ongoing benefit.
This was after the time of IBM’s great foray into the first real Operating System: OS 360. IBM were very good at keeping track of the problems encountered during, and after, the development, and came up with one remarkable statistic: they found that there was a 90% chance of creating two new problems, when one problem was fixed. No wonder the industry was looking for ways to move from an “art” into a “science”.
Over 40 years there have been numerous improvements in software availability. Sequential files gave way to database technology, though we should realise that database technology is just intelligent use of sequential files. Programming techniques moved from “structured string”, to “structured programing”, to the modern encapsulation of code and data into Classes. Computer languages have moved from Assembler hieroglyphics to near English text.
We have changed from creating unique software, to using a multitude of “packaged” software products: which we now take for granted. Software created for mass markets. But there is still a need to create unique software for specific markets.
Likewise the hardware has improved. 40 years ago the pundits predicted computers in a suit case. We all laughed! Now we have computers in a phone: that process at a speed many thousands of times more than that achievable by the best back then. Communication between computers, and between users and a computer, has changed from dedicated point to point cables to the all-encompassing Internet.
And, all through this change, the Dream lingered on. And, despite the 40 years, all the changes have not stopped: particularly with program creation and database technology. At the same time the Internet has become faster, more reliable and basically a universal requirement for any computer user.
About 2010 Microsoft entered the market with a free product: WebMatrix which used the new Razor syntax. Razor provided integration of the “code behind” with the Internet HTML code, data transmission and terminal control. It is another radical change in the way software is created for the Internet. Radical maybe; but a very simple and useful program structure came from it.
The structure based upon Razor turned out to provide the last piece of the puzzle, which, when added to Internet Browsers, SQL database control, and near English code, allowed the generation of programs from the what, the when and the how of Analysis and Design. The Dream became a Dream no more.
ENIGMA is the product of the Dream.
Called ENIGMA because it is a mystery how this can be done.
But ENIGMA is the future; a future that will be refined, expanded and changed to make it more powerful than at present.
ENIGMA is the start of another revolution in the ever changing world of computer technology.
Can you afford to ignore it?