The awk Programming Language
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History | Significant
Language Features | Areas of Application | Sample
Programs | Related Links | References
Awk was first written in 1977 by Alfred V. Aho, Peter J. Weinberger, and
Brian W. Kernighan. The name awk is derived from the last initials of the
three men. At the time of its creation, all three worked for Bell Labs
and awk was released in Version 7 AT&T UNIX and has been a staple in
UN*X distributions ever since. There have been only a handful of major
modifications to the original awk code. These modifications were done in
1985, 1986, and 1989 when it was renamed to nawk. (New awk) There are many
ports of awk to virtually every platform in existence.
Awk has several key features which secured its position early on in its
existence. First, it has similar control structures to common shell scripting
languages making it simple to learn with any experience in shell scripting.
Second, dynamically declared variable default to a null value allowing
them to be immediately used with necessarily needing to be explicitly assigned
a value. Third, the language easily extracts any element from a string
making it ideal for simple data analysis or command scripting.
Areas of Application
Awk was originally used throughout the UN*X world for a large variety of
tasks. Since the advent of Perl, however, it has become relegated to use
nearly exclusively in simple scripts and basic command line statements.
Last modified: 02:31 AM on 12/08/1997
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