RubyConf: History of Ruby

Posted by Nick Sieger Fri, 20 Oct 2006 19:06:00 GMT

Takahashi-san is here to present on the history of Ruby, an apparently thankless task, because none of the other original Rubyists are historians. Takahashi is the co-author of two Japanese books on Ruby, Enjoy Ruby and Ruby Recipe Book. He also has the “Takahashi method” of presentation named after him. His talk presented an informative timeline of Ruby, the details of which were a bit tricky to capture. If I transcribed anything erroneously, please let me know.

Pre-history age

  • Born 24th of February 1993. Without code!
  • Matz and Keiju-san proposed the name first.
  • Thus one of the philosophies of Ruby came to be -- that the name of things matters. Matz: “I guess Ruby is cool”. Keiju: “I also like coral”. Matz: “oops”.

Ancient age

  • Ruby is in public -- release 21 December 1995 -- ruby-0.95.
  • ruby-list ML was launched. First mail: ruby-0.95 test failed. Subsequently 3 versions of Ruby were released in two days.
  • No CVS repository at the time. Anonymous CVS was to come in 1999.
  • 25 December 1996 -- Ruby 1.0 released.
  • 1 July 1997: Matz announces that Netlab hired him to be a full-time Ruby developer.
  • 22 Septempber 1997: an article was published on Ruby -- the first article on the web about Ruby.
  • 15 May 1998: RAA launched, maintained manually by Matz.
  • 7 December 1998: Ruby home page was in English, but very simple.


  • Ruby is spreading in Japan during this time. The community is growing around Japanese programming language designers and programmers who do not understand English. Finally they have a tool that they can embrace and establish their own opinions and choices.
  • 27 October 1999: Matz and Keiju’s book is published, the first Ruby book
  • More Ruby books would follow in 2001-2002 (~20 books -- a bubble). But the bubble popped in 2003.
  • 4 November 1999: Ruby workshop
  • There were some Perl and Ruby/Perl conferences during this time also.
  • 26 May 2001: YARPC -- Yet Another Ruby and Perl Conference
  • 9 August 2003: Lightweight language (LL) -- lightweight language workshop (LL Saturday) in 2003. PHP, Perl, Ruby and Python were present. LL Weekend, LL Day and Night, and LL Ring would follow in 2004-2006.
  • LL Ring: 300 attendees talking about LLs in a real boxing ring.


  • Ruby spreads outside of Japan
  • 16 Feb 2002 -- ruby-talk ML surpasses ruby-list ML.
  • ruby-talk was started in December of 1998, but the first posts are almost all Japanese authors writing in English.
  • SunWorld in Februrary 1999 has an article entitled “New choices for scripting” including Ruby.
  • February 2000: IBM Developerworks article on the “latest open source gem from Japan”.
  • InformIT article by Matz also in 2000.
  • 15 December 2001: Programming Ruby by the Pragprogs (1st edition of the Pickaxe).
  • Ruby Kaigi -- first Japanese Ruby conference didn’t happen until 2006, it turns out only because of a dinner of Japanese rubyists at RubyConf 2005 decided that it would be fun.


  • Rails age -- the killer application for Ruby
  • We all know what happened, so we’ll skip this part.

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  1. Avatar trans said 4 days later:

    “15 December 2002: Programming Ruby by the Pragprogs (1st edition of the Pickaxe)”

    The date has to be at least a year off since I taught myself Ruby with it in early 2002.

  2. Avatar Nick said 4 days later:

    I think you’re right. The online 1st edition of the Pickaxe has 2001 at the bottom. I’ve updated the date.


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