> Rubbish. I have books from the 90s on C++ that fail to mention smart pointers anywhere, written by C++ committee members.
> Could good C++ programmers have created their own smart pointers in the 80s? I guess so. My strong impression though is that C++ programmers would have been *way* ahead of the state of understood wisdom in the C++ world at that time. My impression
Well, you'd be wrong. The need for RAII-d resources was understood quite early in the game. I'm not sure about 80-s - there was no significant amount of C++ code then, but surely during the early 90-s.
>If they're so trivial, so widely understood for so long, why did it take 20+ years to standardise some? Why is an only relatively recently standardised form of smart pointer already being deprecated in the next C++ standard? (auto_ptr for unique_ptr).
Mostly for historical reasons. The first C++ Standard was developed in great haste (by ISO standards), there simply was not time to test the proposed things in production. And then it was too late so major additions had to wait until C++11. The same story happened with hash maps, btw.
However, Boost and other libraries had no shortage of various smart pointers.