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String interpolation was there in the first versions of the Bourne shell, and I suspect the pre-Bourne shell in PDP-7 Unix in 1970 or so, but of course programmers have been generating strings by pasting together bits of constant and variable strings for a lot longer than that; Church defined the λ-calculus in terms of string interpolation in the 1930s, before there were even any computers. Computer-generated printed letters were already a commonplace occurrence in the US in the 1950s (at least if references in the fiction of the era are to be believed), and those are of course built with string interpolation. Around that time, assembly languages became the first languages to claim to make computer programming obsolete (because at the time "programming" meant programming in binary), and rather quickly some of them developed macro capabilities — before 1960, I think. Macro assemblers typically do their macro magic with string interpolation, even today. High-level languages of the time commonly used template strings, like those in (1964?) BASIC's PRINT USING statement, though FORTRAN's "edit descriptors" used a non-interpolation-based syntax. COBOL's "edited picture" feature is a kind of string interpolation, but I have no idea when it was added to COBOL.

In the 1970s string interpolation really got going with languages like sh, cpp, and m4, which was popularized on many platforms by the "Software Tools" book (which in a sense is a slow buildup to the presentation of m4); m4 is Turing-complete entirely through string interpolation (more so even than Tcl decades later).

I suspect Perl had string interpolation from the beginning (1988), given its shell roots, but I don't have a copy of Perl 1 to test with.

For an overview of modern languages' string-interpolation syntax, I suggest https://www.rosettacode.org/wiki/String_interpolation_%28inc....

Hope this helps!




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