When one learns a new programming language the very first program they write is “Hello World”. Today, we all take it for granted: after all, a tradition is a tradition. So, you go out, fire an editor, type:

fn main() {
    println!("Hello World!");

then press “Run” in your editor, and, as you stare at two familiar words in your terminal, they stare back. And you think “Am I doing this? Am I learning the language?”.

I remember when I started to learn to program and encountered this exercise I thought how ridiculous the phrase is. Does anyone ever get into a position when they say “Hello World!” out loud? If humans could speak since birth “Hello World!” might have been an appropriate phrase to pronounce first. But other than that - I don’t know.

Maybe when a new country is created and joins UN, and their representative comes up on stage and addresses the audience they could say something along the lines of “Hello World! We’re South Sudan!”. At the time of this writing South Sudan is a newest UN member, so I tried to look up what their representative said, and though I couldn’t find a full speech anywhere (which is ridiculous btw - it’s a historical moment for A COUNTRY!), no news sources hinted anywhere that South Sudanese Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon at any point in his speech said something as dorky as “Hello World”. Well, Bougainville should be next, and we might hear “Hello World!” sometime around 2027. We should probably petition them to do it or something.

Also, I remember reading some books from 1970s and 1980s about programming, and not all of them used Hello World as the first exercise. So recently it occurred to me that someone at some point came up with an idea of that kind of program and that particular phrase to use as a first program. Well, turns out that was Brian Kernighan - of the AWK, Unix, K&R C Book, and autotoolsm4 fame. He used it in 1972 in his B language tutorial, then again in K&R C Book in 1978, and that’s when the popularity of “Hello World” took off. It’s cool to see Brian still around, he keeps publishing books, doing research, and he even taught classes at Princeton in 2021 in his late 70s.

Anyway, here’s my Hello World post, and like 99% of them it doesn’t really have much substance. Well, the true point of this exercise is to make sure one has their minimal programming setup done before continuing on. The compiler is installed and it is accessible through user’s $PATH, the editor is there and can produce text files with right encoding and file extension, and they figured out how to use terminal to tie all that together.

This post is just the same. I sneaked in a code block, and some pieces of formatting, and if it looks good that means I can post something more interesting in future.