Comma-separated Values - History

History

Comma-separated values is a data format that pre-dates personal computers by more than a decade: the IBM Fortran (level G) compiler under OS/360 supported them in 1967. List-directed ("free form") input/output was defined in FORTRAN 77 (the 77 means 1977). List-directed input used commas and/or spaces for delimiters, so unquoted character strings could not contain commas or spaces.

Comma-separated value lists are easier to type (for example into punched cards) than fixed-column-aligned data, and were less prone to producing incorrect results if a value was punched one column off from its intended location.

The comma separated list (CSL) is a data format originally known as comma-separated values (CSV) in the oldest days of simple computers. In the industry of personal computers (then more commonly known as "Home Computers"), a common use was small businesses generating solicitations using boilerplate form letters and mailing lists.

CSL/CSVs were used for simple databases. Some early software applications, such as word processors, allowed a stream of "variable data" to be merged between two files: a form letter, and a CSL database of names, addresses, and other data fields. Many applications still have this ability.

Comma separated lists were and are used for the interchange of database information between machines of two different architectures. The plain-text character of CSV files largely avoids incompatibilities such as byte-order and word size. The files are largely human-readable, so it is easier to deal with them in the absence of perfect documentation or communication.

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Famous quotes containing the word history:

    There is no history of how bad became better.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    To summarize the contentions of this paper then. Firstly, the phrase ‘the meaning of a word’ is a spurious phrase. Secondly and consequently, a re-examination is needed of phrases like the two which I discuss, ‘being a part of the meaning of’ and ‘having the same meaning.’ On these matters, dogmatists require prodding: although history indeed suggests that it may sometimes be better to let sleeping dogmatists lie.
    —J.L. (John Langshaw)

    The disadvantage of men not knowing the past is that they do not know the present. History is a hill or high point of vantage, from which alone men see the town in which they live or the age in which they are living.
    Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874–1936)