Re: GCC is 25 years old today
Tue, 27 Mar 2012 09:27:03 -0000

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GCC is 25 years old today (Rui Maciel) (2012-03-22)
Re: GCC is 25 years old today (BGB) (2012-03-24)
Re: GCC is 25 years old today (Dmitry A. Kazakov) (2012-03-26)
Re: GCC is 25 years old today (2012-03-27)
Re: GCC is 25 years old today (glen herrmannsfeldt) (2012-03-28)
Re: GCC is 25 years old today (Dmitry A. Kazakov) (2012-03-28)
Re: GCC is 25 years old today (Rui Maciel) (2012-03-28)
Re: GCC is 25 years old today (BGB) (2012-03-28)
Re: GCC is 25 years old today (Hans-Peter Diettrich) (2012-03-29)
Re: GCC is 25 years old today (2012-03-29)
[11 later articles]
| List of all articles for this month |

Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2012 09:27:03 -0000
Organization: Compilers Central
References: 12-03-056
Keywords: GCC, history
Posted-Date: 28 Mar 2012 05:33:37 EDT

> On Sat, 24 Mar 2012 08:44:36 -0700, BGB wrote:
> > GCC showed up in various forms (such as DJGPP, and later Cygwin and
> > MinGW), and in not much time, most previously non-free compilers (MSVC,
> > Watcom, ...) became freely available as well.
> >
> > if not for GCC, maybe compilers would tend to still cost money?

They still do, once you realize there are computers other than PCs and
there are OS other than UNIX.

> > either that, or maybe this trend was inevitable?

On Linux/UNIX? Probably so given people expect free as in free and are
not used to paying for anything. Hard to figure pricing models for
that market, but the cheaper the better.

> It was. The software market was (and is) unregulated. The big software
> vendors were able to fund incredibly cost-intensive compiler
> development form sales of other, far less expensive to develop,
> software and services.

Yes but not necessarily only. Some of the compilers still cost a bundle and
since they're mature I think they're making all their money back several
times over. I don't have the numbers in front of me so my guess isn't any
worse than yours unless you do.

> This started a race to the bottom and, in the end, destroyed the whole
> market of compilers with all the compiler vendors who were not quick
> enough to diversify their business. Those who did, walked away anyway.
> Why would you keep an unprofitable department? You cannot yearn
> anything for compilers now.

This is not generally true. If you're talking about Intel x86 it's mostly
true. As you know Adacore still makes plenty of money. So does Green
Hills. So do others I haven't heard of.

It's not true about IBM at all on System Z. They sell compilers and make a
lot of money, it's probably all gravy now. I don't know if they make money
on compilers for POWER and AIX. There are even a few companies selling C/C++
compilers for System Z. It's not only IBM in the market, and people are
still spending money.

> Consequently, there is no significant investments in compiler and
> language research, of which effect the author of the article observed
> as a "plateau." There is no mystery in it, no market means no
> progress. Academic research very soon became irrelevant without an
> input from the field, without industry hungry for fresh compiler
> developers. So, here we are.

I don't think this is correct. Like many other things about the industry, it
has become a lot more focused and refined but I don't think there is no
market. And I don't think there is no innovation and no progress. Things
move along. There are several significant compiler companies. Not as many as in
the 1970s and not on as many platforms but there are still some doing a
pretty good business.

> Was GCC responsible for that? No, its role was rather positive, to keep
> some least diversity of compilers, to serve as an epitaph on the
> tombstone...

It's an epitaph on FSF's tombstone, with any luck!

[There's plenty of compiler work in embedded systems, too. ARM has
compilers that basically just generate intermediate code, and the
linker does sophisticated global optimization over the whole program.

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