Where did the name Smalltalk come from?
Last updated at 10:58 pm UTC on 15 December 2006
The name actually appeared before the first Smalltalk design, which was done in 1971. I had mentioned to someone that the "prose" of then current programming languages was lower than a cocktail party conversation, and that great progress would have been made if we could even get to the level of making "smalltalk". It then occured to me that this word was also a great pun for a language aimed at the world of small children.
As for hype: Another motive for "smalltalk" was the practice at the time of naming operating, and other, systems (which hardly did anything) after mighty indo-european gods, such as Thor, Zeus, Odin, etc. I figured that if Smalltalk ever did something neat, then people would be pleasantly surprised.
As related in the Early History of Smalltalk (in HOPL II, Addison Wesley, 1995), the actual start of today's Smalltalk was kind of accidental and was partly the result of a bet. – Alan Kay