YUI Theater — Douglas Crockford: “Crockford on JavaScript — Volume 1: The Early Years”

By YUI TeamFebruary 3rd, 2010

Douglas Crockford delivers the first lecture in his his Crockford on JavaScript lecture series at Yahoo on Janurary 25, 2010.

In the first part of Douglas Crockford’s five-part series on the JavaScript programming language, he explores the historical context from which JavaScript emerged. But he begins with a little bit of his own history, relating his efforts as a child to build a homemade computer:

I found some pieces of particle board and a saw and I sketched out what it was going to look like, and started sawing. I sawed, and sawed, and sawed. The particle board was really, really hard, and the saw was really, really dull. I sawed for what must have been at least two minutes, and then I gave up. OK, I’m not going to do that. So I probably went into the house and watched television after that. At that time, even at that tender age, it was already obvious that I was going to be a software guy.

For the better part of two hours, Douglas takes you on a historical journey in which you learn about:

  • the origin of the eighty-character limit
  • the history of punch-cards and their impact on modern programming
  • the origin of the term “spaghetti code”
  • why accessibility has gone downhill since the days of the Teletype
  • why we’re still living with both a carriage return character and a line feed character, and where those concepts originated
  • the genealogy of command-line text editors
  • what languages like ALGOL, Simula, and Self have to do with JavaScript
  • why “the guys who could write for the [Atari] VCS were heroes”
  • why innovation in software is slower than innovation in hardware

A few tickets remain for the next four installments of the series, which resumes Friday night with Chapter 2: And Then There Was JavaScript.” We hope to see you here.

If the video embed below doesn’t show up correctly in your RSS reader of choice, be sure to click through to watch the high-resolution version of the video on YUI Theater or download the video in HD (700MB).

Other Recent YUI Theater Videos:

  • John Resig: Testing, Performance Analysis, and jQuery 1.4 — John Resig of Mozilla, creator of the popular jQuery JavaScript library, reviews options for testing and performance analysis in JavaScript and previews the significant changes coming soon in jQuery 1.4.
  • Luke Smith: Events Evolved — YUI engineer Luke Smith provides a deep introduction to the YUI 3 event system including its support for DOM events, event delegation, synthetic events, and custom events.
  • Satyen Desai: A Widget Walkthrough — YUI engineer Satyen Desai provides a detailed tour of the YUI 3 widget subsystem.

Subscribing to YUI Theater:


  1. How many minutes long is the video? The video player does not include this information; can you add this to future blog posts? Thanks!

  2. it is not clear both the picture and sound

  3. I’m not talking to a programmer ever again until they can assure me they’ve watched every minute of this talk.

  4. @monsur,

    Fair point. This one is 1 hr. 42 minutes.


  5. @janwen,

    Your best option, if you aren’t getting good audio/visual quality from the embedded player, is to download the video. In the post above, there are links to download both the smaller iPhone-sized video as well as an HD .mov file.


  6. [...] Crockford on JavaScript – Volume 1: The Early Years – The Yahoo Developer Network provide the video content of the first part of Douglas Crockford’s 5 part series on the JavaScript Programming Language. In this first part he talks about his computing history,and more generally the history of computing and programming. [...]

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  9. I need this whole series on DVD… if it includes Douglas Engelbart’s “The Mother of All Demos” I’ll preorder it now!

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  11. [...] quite a shame that most programmers don’t really know much about its history. You can watchDouglas Crockford’s video to get an idea of where all these came [...]