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Old Versions of Perl

Date Released: December 18, 1987
File Size: 46.40 MB
Publisher: Larry Wall
License: Freeware
Operation Systems: Unix-like, Windows
Category: DevOps
Versions: 1.0 – 5.30.1
Last Updated: January 27, 2020
Perl is a high-level, interpreted, dynamic programming language. It was originally developed by Larry Wall in 1987 as a scripting language to make report processing easier. It has since gone through five versions with version six on the way.
Perl has features that have been borrowed from other programming languages including C, AWK, and SED. It provides powerful features for text processing as well as providing easy manipulation of text files. Due to its adaptability and flexibility, it has been called the ‘Swiss Army chainsaw’ of programming languages.
When version 1 was released on December 18, 1987 to comp.sources.misc.newsgroup, it was listed “as interpreted language optimized for scanning arbitrary text files, extracting information from those text files, and printing reports based on that information.” By June of the following year, version 2 was released adding new regular expressions, local variables in blocks, recursive subroutines, and file globbing.
Version 3 was released in October 1989. This was the first listed under the GNU Public License. This version handles binary data and has functions to pack and unpack binary structures into arrays or lists. There are debugger enhancements, subroutine names are distinguished by prefixing with ‘&’, you can dump core to produce a binary executable image, you can chop lists, as well as a whole list of new functions including mkdir, rmdir, chroot, ioctl, flock, rindex, and pack.
Version 4 was released in 1991 and the only major feature for this release was that it was now documented by a book. The book was “Programming Perl” by Larry Wall and Randal Schwartz. Version 4 went through several maintenance releases culminating into version 4.036 which was released in 1993. At this time Wall began to work on version 5.
Version 5 was released in October 1994 and reflects a near complete rewrite of the interpreter as well as adding many new features to the language. Some of these features included object support, lexical scoping, more extensive documentation, and additional new functions including abs(), chr(), uc(), chomp(), and glob().
If you work with text files, especially in programming, then Perl can be a great productivity booster. While Perl is a complete programming language, and you could even write an operating system in it, it probably would not be wise to do so, but on the other hand, if you need to get something done, and done quickly, then Perl has the power.