There's no official Erlang anniversary - help us select one!

We all share a common passion: our love for Erlang! :heart:

:speech_balloon: We talked with Erlang experts Robert Virding and Bjarne Däcker and realized that there’s no official anniversary for this amazing programming language! So we want to create one together! Over the next two weeks, we’ll share significant dates from Erlang’s history and invite you to contribute any important dates you think we should consider.

:bar_chart: Then, on July 1st, we’ll hold a vote on our social media platforms (X and LinkedIn) to select the final date. The winning date will be announced on July 3rd!

Join us in shaping the #ErlangAnniversary.


Wonder how long after Erlang was announced/created the Erlang Movie went out?

I reckon it’s arguably one of the most loved moments in Erlang’s entire history :003:


Joe Armstrong, died on April 20 at the age of 68.
In honor of Joe Armstrong, I suggest April 20th


Or what about his birthday? :blush:


One of those dates was my first thought, too, when I first read this post. On second thought however, I’m not so sure.

While Joe was probably the most prominent and one of the most important persons when it comes to Erlang, he wasn’t the only one: Fixing an anniversary solely on him would arguably belittle the other people whose efforts also played an important role in creating Erlang and making it what it is today.

Also, while I myself never had the chance to meet Joe in person and only know him from videos, I’m not sure if he would have liked it himself.

tl;dr: I would rather suggest a date more related to Erlang the language than a date related to a single person in the history of Erlang, however important. The only date in that regard that I can think of is when Erlang became Open Source and thus available to us all.


Well said, I agree. I really admire Joe and pretty much all he did, however, I guess we should take care not to effectively turn Erlang into a synonym for “Joes language”, to put it bluntly.

Therefore, I would also go for the date when Erlang became available to all of us, given there is such a definite date.


Maybe the open-source release date? December 8th. It’s a win date for everyone o/


Considering that Joe Armstrong wrote the first couple of implementations and that for several releases the virtual machine was JAM (Joe’s Abstract Machine) – which I’d still like to see a writeup of – thinking of it as “Joe’s Language” isn’t inappropriate. This is a bit like saying we shouldn’t associate C with
Kernighan and Ritchie or Pascal with Niklaus Wirth or Lisp with McCarthy or
Prolog with Colmerauer.

Many other people made important contributions to all those languages.
That doesn’t mean the originators shouldn’t be commemorated.

Perhaps one way to cut the Gordian knot would be to celebrate Erlang’s birthday on Erlang’s birthday, which happens to be the 1st of January (1878).
Erlang also died too soon.


There is an Erlang history timeline in the conference paper “Introducing Concurrent Functional Programming in the Telecommunications Industry” by Bjarne Dacker.

But when is the official birthdate?


As much as I respect Joe, lots of people have contributed to Erlang/OTP and the VMs (plural). I think any anniversary should be tied to some significant event in the Erlang/OTP timeline, not any one individual. Erlang/OTP wouldn’t be anywhere near where it is today without the open-source release, so I think that date is a good candidate for the anniversary.


The name Erlang was invented some time in the Autumn 1986 and was officially mentioned within Ericsson in January 1987.

:thinking: What are your thoughts? Would this be a suitable date? Keep in mind, we’re still missing the exact day!


The name Erlang preceded development of what became the Erlang language. We, the CS lab, had used it in a number of systems in different languages we had written, for instance one in the parallel logic language Parlog.


Is the release date of Erlang v1.0 known?

Even though it was internal would we not consider that the official birthday?


Tough choice.
Do we at least agree on the year?


Why do we want an official birthday for Erlang?
Any date is as arbitrary as any other.
Why not the publication date of the first Erlang book?
(Serious question.)


Voting on X and LinkedIn? Way to exclude people!


We are going to share the options here and on our Mastodon account as well, so everyone can participate!


Was thinking the same thing, but then forgot to say :upside_down_face:


I would love to celebrate in a specific day!


Joe’s birthday is December 27th, 1950. His dissertation, “Making reliable distributed systems in the presence of software errors,” was published in December 2003. I propose Erlang’s official birthday to be celebrated December 27th, 2003 henceforth! If we want to tie it more closely to the project then Erlang was made open source in 1998 and OTP in 1999. 1998 is also when Joe, Robert, & Mike started Bluetail AB as an Erlang support company. So maybe 1998? Can be Joe’s birthday or perhaps one of the guys can tell us the actual date as it doesn’t seem to be easily discovered.

– Ben Scherrey

Note: I’ve seen one claim that his birthday was December 7th but I’m guessing that was just a typo.

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