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What were the design motivations leading to all variables being global, and limiting them to the block scope only when 'local' is used ? Why not the reverse (all variables local to block scope expect where noted 'global') ?

You can read about the great "Globals-Locals by default" war anywhere between these two threads:

    4 Aug 2005

    14 Nov 1997

Hundreds of good programmers have been killed in the conflict.
In the end, the "Globals" tribe won. Let's not start another one...