From an interview by Naomi Hamilton:
> Language design is a very personal activity and each person brings to > a language the classes of problems that they'd like to solve, and the > manner in which they'd like them to be solved. I had a lot of fun > creating AWK, and working with Kernighan and Weinberger was one of the > most stimulating experiences of my career. I also learned I would not > want to get into a programming contest with either of them however! > Their programming abilities are formidable. > >
Alfred Aho, interviewed by Naomi Hamilton, "The A-Z of Programming Languages: AWK", Computer World, 20080527, accessed 20111029.
Interestingly, we did not intend the language to be used except by the three of us. But very quickly we discovered lots of other people had the need for the routine kind of data processing that AWK was good for. People didn't want to write hundred-line C programs to do data processing that could be done with a few lines of AWK, so lots of people started using AWK.
[The name] was not our choice. When our research colleagues saw the three of us in one or another's office, they'd walk by the open door and say 'AWK! AWK!'. So, we called the language AWK because of the good natured ribbing we received from our colleagues. We also thought it was a great name, and we put the AUK bird picture on the AWK book when we published it.
What AWK represents is a beautiful marriage of theory and practice. The best engineering is often built on top of a sound scientific foundation. In AWK we have taken expressive notations and efficient algorithms founded in computer science and engineered them to run well in practice.