How Erlang got its name

Erlang was the third language designed at Ericsson with a structure of modules, processes and process communication in the tradition of Modula. Modula had been designed by Niklaus Wirth the inventor also of Pascal.

This talk will discuss the large scale international efforts in the 1980’s to create a standard systems programming language. That work led to Chill by the CCITT and to Ada by the DoD. It is surprising how many strange ways of process communication that were invented. All of those languages, however, were imperative yet Lisp and Prolog had been used for some successful applications at Ericsson.

The time was ripe to combine these efforts and the Computer Science Laboratory was set up to take the work further. The new programming language was nearly named EriLang. Erlang is the measure of traffic load well-known to everybody in the telecoms industry and was a much better choice.


Erlang was no skunk work.


People interested in Erlang, concurrent programming, functional programming, history of programming languages, applied research in industry.