Real Programmers and the story of Mel

In reading around the internet I ran into a couple of old articles/emails that were about computers, and programmers from quite a while ago. The first one is a description of what “real” programmers are like, and the encroaching mass of “Quiche eaters” that program in pascal. Reading through it was quite interesting and amusing, and gives a bit of insight into what computing and software design was like for the early pioneers. You can find this short rant here. It really shows how much things have changed!

I remember similar things being said back when I was at university. “Real programmers use vi” was one of the favourites used. Fortunately it was only ever used jokingly, as silly things like this really shouldn’t be used to judge how good someones programming skills are. That and vi is one of the most un-usable programs around! I much prefer to use pico or nano when they are available or just echoing data directly to a file. What kinds of silly “real programmer…” type statements have you heard?

The second article I read today is a story about a “real” programmer named Mel. He is a remarkable programmer who wrote entire programs directly in machine code (basically writing lots of 1’s and 0’s). He did many optimizations himself that were better than compilers of the time and were quite impressive! You can read about Mel here.


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