From: (Mike Schenk)
Newsgroups: eunet.jokes,rec.humor
Message-ID: <>
Date: 31 Mar 92 08:09:56 GMT
Lines: 984

To anyone who sent me a copy of the real programmers story, THANK 
Actually there are more versions than I thought.

Since a lot of people asked me to forward it to them, the best 
solution seems posting it here. So here they are.


Mike Schenk

"De antwoorden zijn altijd al aanwezig"
    	- Ad van den Berg in Steve Vai's, Answers

                       March 24, 1983

             Real Programmers Don't Use PASCAL
                          Ed Post
                      Tektronix, Inc.
                  P.O. Box 1000 m/s 63-205
                   Wilsonville, OR 97070
                     Copyright (c) 1982
(decvax | ucbvax | cbosg | pur-ee | lbl-unix)!teklabs!iddic!evp

     Back in the good old days -- the "Golden Era"  of  com-
puters, it was easy to separate the men from the boys (some-
times called "Real Men" and "Quiche Eaters" in  the  litera-
ture).  During  this period, the Real Men were the ones that
understood computer programming, and the Quiche Eaters  were
the ones that didn't. A real computer programmer said things
like "DO 10 I=1,10" and "ABEND"  (they  actually  talked  in
capital  letters, you understand), and the rest of the world
said things like "computers are too complicated for me"  and
"I  can't  relate to computers -- they're so impersonal". (A
previous work [1] points out that Real Men don't "relate" to
anything, and aren't afraid of being impersonal.)

     But, as usual, times change. We are faced today with  a
world  in which little old ladies can get computers in their
microwave ovens, 12 year old kids can blow Real Men  out  of
the  water playing Asteroids and Pac-Man, and anyone can buy
and even understand their very own  Personal  Computer.  The
Real  Programmer  is in danger of becoming extinct, of being
replaced by high-school students with TRASH-80s.

     There is a clear need  to  point  out  the  differences
between  the typical high-school junior Pac-Man player and a
Real Programmer. If this difference is made clear,  it  will
give  these  kids  something to aspire to -- a role model, a
Father Figure. It will also help explain to the employers of
Real  Programmers  why  it would be a mistake to replace the
Real Programmers on their staff with  12  year  old  Pac-Man
players (at a considerable salary savings).


     The easiest way to tell  a  Real  Programmer  from  the
crowd  is by the programming language he (or she) uses. Real
Programmers use FORTRAN.  Quiche Eaters use PASCAL. Nicklaus
Wirth,  the designer of PASCAL, gave a talk once at which he
was asked "How do you pronounce  your  name?".  He  replied,
"You  can either call me by name, pronouncing it 'Veert', or
call me by value, 'Worth'." One can  tell  immediately  from
this comment that Nicklaus Wirth is a Quiche Eater. The only
parameter passing mechanism endorsed by Real Programmers  is
call-by-value-return,  as implemented in the IBM/370 FORTRAN
G and H compilers.  Real programmers don't  need  all  these
abstract  concepts  to  get  their  jobs  done  --  they are
perfectly happy with a keypunch, a FORTRAN IV compiler,  and
a beer.

*    Real Programmers do List Processing in FORTRAN.

*    Real Programmers do String Manipulation in FORTRAN.

*    Real Programmers do Accounting (if they do it  at  all)
     in FORTRAN.

*    Real Programmers do Artificial Intelligence programs in

If you can't do it in FORTRAN, do it in  assembly  language.
If  you  can't  do  it  in assembly language, it isn't worth

                   ---------- -----------

     The academics in computer science have gotten into  the
"structured  programming"  rut  over the past several years.
They claim that programs are more easily understood  if  the
programmer  uses  some special language constructs and tech-
niques. They don't all agree on exactly which constructs, of
course,  and  the examples they use to show their particular
point of view invariably  fit  on  a  single  page  of  some
obscure journal or another -- clearly not enough of an exam-
ple to convince anyone. When I got out of school, I  thought
I  was  the  best  programmer in the world. I could write an
unbeatable tic-tac-toe program, use five different  computer
languages,  and  create  1000  line  programs  that  WORKED.
(Really!) Then I got out into the Real World. My first  task
in  the Real World was to read and understand a 200,000 line
FORTRAN program, then speed it up by a factor  of  two.  Any
Real Programmer will tell you that all the Structured Coding
in the world won't help you solve a problem like that --  it
takes  actual  talent.  Some quick observations on Real Pro-
grammers and Structured Programming:

*    Real Programmers aren't afraid to use GOTOs.

*    Real Programmers can write  five  page  long  DO  loops
     without getting confused.

*    Real Programmers like Arithmetic IF statements --  they
     make the code more interesting.

*    Real Programmers write self-modifying code,  especially
     if  they  can  save  20  nanoseconds in the middle of a
     tight loop.

*    Real Programmers don't need comments  --  the  code  is

*    Since FORTRAN doesn't have a structured IF, REPEAT  ...
     UNTIL,  or  CASE statement, Real Programmers don't have
     to worry about not using them.  Besides,  they  can  be
     simulated when necessary using assigned GOTOs.

     Data structures have also gotten a lot of press lately.
Abstract   Data  Types,  Structures,  Pointers,  Lists,  and
Strings have become popular in certain circles.  Wirth  (the
above-mentioned  Quiche Eater) actually wrote an entire book
[2] contending that you could write a program based on  data
structures,  instead  of  the  other way around. As all Real
Programmers know, the only  useful  data  structure  is  the
Array.  Strings,  Lists,  Structures,  Sets -- these are all
special cases of arrays and can be treated that way just  as
easily  without messing up your programing language with all
sorts of complications. The worst  thing  about  fancy  data
types is that you have to declare them, and Real Programming
Languages, as we all know, have implicit typing based on the
first letter of the (six character) variable name.

                     OPERATING SYSTEMS
                     --------- -------

     What kind of operating system is used by  a  Real  Pro-
grammer?   CP/M? God forbid -- CP/M, after all, is basically
a toy operating system.  Even little old  ladies  and  grade
school students can understand and use CP/M.

     Unix is a lot more complicated of course -- the typical
Unix  hacker  never  can  remember what the PRINT command is
called this week -- but when it gets right down to it,  Unix
is  a  glorified video game. People don't do Serious Work on
Unix systems: they send jokes around the world  on  UUCP-net
and write adventure games and research papers.

     No, your Real Programmer uses OS/370. A good programmer
can find and understand the description of the IJK305I error
he just got in his JCL manual.  A great programmer can write
JCL  without  referring  to  the manual at all. A truly out-
standing programmer can find bugs buried  in  a  6  megabyte
core  dump  without using a hex calculator. (I have actually
seen this done.)

     OS is a truly remarkable operating system. It's  possi-
ble  to  destroy days of work with a single misplaced space,
so alertness in the programming  staff  is  encouraged.  The
best way to approach the system is through a keypunch.  Some
people claim there is a Time Sharing  system  that  runs  on
OS/370,   but  after  careful  study  I  have  come  to  the
conclusion that they were mistaken.

                     PROGRAMMING TOOLS
                     ----------- -----

     What kind of tools  does  a  Real  Programmer  use?  In
theory,  a  Real Programmer could run his programs by keying
them into the front panel of the computer. Back in the  days
when  computers  had  front  panels,  this was actually done
occasionally. Your typical Real Programmer knew  the  entire
bootstrap  loader  by memory in hex, and toggled it in when-
ever it got destroyed by his program. (Back then, memory was
memory  -- it didn't go away when the power went off. Today,
memory either forgets things when you don't want it  to,  or
remembers  things  long  after  they're  better  forgotten.)
Legend has it that Seymour Cray,  inventor  of  the  Cray  I
supercomputer and most of Control Data's computers, actually
toggled the first operating system for the CDC7600 in on the
front  panel  from memory when it was first powered on. Sey-
mour, needless to say, is a Real Programmer.

     One of my favorite Real Programmers was a systems  pro-
grammer  for  Texas Instruments. One day, he got a long dis-
tance call from a user whose system had crashed in the  mid-
dle  of  saving  some important work. Jim was able to repair
the damage over the phone, getting the  user  to  toggle  in
disk  I/O  instructions at the front panel, repairing system
tables in hex,  reading  register  contents  back  over  the
phone. The moral of this story: while a Real Programmer usu-
ally includes a keypunch and lineprinter in his toolkit,  he
can  get  along  with  just a front panel and a telephone in

     In some companies, text editing no longer  consists  of
ten  engineers  standing  in line to use an 029 keypunch. In
fact, the building  I  work  in  doesn't  contain  a  single
keypunch.  The  Real  Programmer in this situation has to do
his work with a "text editor" program. Most  systems  supply
several text editors to select from, and the Real Programmer
must be careful to  pick  one  that  reflects  his  personal
style. Many people believe that the best text editors in the
world were written at Xerox Palo Alto  Research  Center  for
use  on  their Alto and Dorado computers [3]. Unfortunately,
no Real Programmer would ever use a computer whose operating
system  is called SmallTalk, and would certainly not talk to
the computer with a mouse.

     Some of the concepts in these Xerox editors  have  been
incorporated  into  editors running on more reasonably named
operating systems -- EMACS and VI  being  two.  The  problem
with  these  editors is that Real Programmers consider "what
you see is what you get" to be just as bad a concept in Text
Editors  as  it is in Women. No, the Real Programmer wants a
"you asked for it, you got it" text editor  --  complicated,
cryptic,  powerful, unforgiving, dangerous. TECO, to be pre-

     It has been observed that a TECO command sequence  more
closely resembles transmission line noise than readable text
[4]. One of the more entertaining games to play with TECO is
to type your name in as a command line and try to guess what
it does. Just about any possible typing error while  talking
with  TECO will probably destroy your program, or even worse
-- introduce subtle and mysterious bugs in  a  once  working

     For this reason,  Real  Programmers  are  reluctant  to
actually  edit a program that is close to working. They find
it  much  easier  to  just  patch  the  binary  object  code
directly,  using a wonderful program called SUPERZAP (or its
equivalent on non-IBM machines). This  works  so  well  that
many working programs on IBM systems bear no relation to the
original FORTRAN code. In many cases,  the  original  source
code  is  no  longer  available. When it comes time to fix a
program like this, no manager would even  think  of  sending
anything  less  than  a  Real Programmer to do the job -- no
Quiche Eating structured programmer would even know where to
start.  This  is  called  "job  security".  Some programming
tools NOT used by Real Programmers:

*    FORTRAN preprocessors  like  MORTRAN  and  RATFOR.  The
     Cuisinarts  of  programming -- great for making Quiche.
     See comments above on structured programming.

*    Source language debuggers. Real  Programmers  can  read
     core dumps.

*    Compilers  with  array  bounds  checking.  They  stifle
     creativity,  destroy  most  of the interesting uses for
     EQUIVALENCE, and  make  it  impossible  to  modify  the
     operating  system  code with negative subscripts. Worst
     of all, bounds checking is inefficient.

*    Source code maintainance  systems.  A  Real  Programmer
     keeps  his  code  locked  up in a card file, because it
     implies that its owner cannot leave his important  pro-
     grams unguarded [5].

                --- ---- ---------- -- ----

     Where does the typical Real Programmer work? What  kind
of  programs  are  worthy  of  the efforts of so talented an
individual? You can be sure that no real Programmer would be
caught  dead  writing accounts-receivable programs in COBOL,
or sorting mailing lists for People magazine.  A  Real  Pro-
grammer    wants    tasks    of   earth-shaking   importance

*    Real Programmers work for Los Alamos  National  Labora-
     tory,  writing atomic bomb simulations to run on Cray I

*    Real Programmers work for the National Security Agency,
     decoding Russian transmissions.

*    It was largely due to the efforts of thousands of  Real
     Programmers  working  for NASA that our boys got to the
     moon and back before the Russkies.

*    The computers in the Space Shuttle were  programmed  by
     Real Programmers.

*    Real Programmers are at work for Boeing  designing  the
     operating systems for cruise missiles.

     Some of the most awesome Real Programmers of  all  work
at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. Many of them
know the entire operating system of the Pioneer and  Voyager
spacecraft  by  heart.  With  a combination of large ground-
based FORTRAN programs and small  spacecraft-based  assembly
language  programs,  they are able to do incredible feats of
navigation and improvisation -- hitting  ten-kilometer  wide
windows  at  Saturn  after  six years in space, repairing or
bypassing damaged sensor platforms, radios,  and  batteries.
Allegedly,  one  Real  Programmer managed to tuck a pattern-
matching program into a few hundred bytes of  unused  memory
in a Voyager spacecraft that searched for, located, and pho-
tographed a new moon of Jupiter.

     The current plan for the Galileo spacecraft is to use a
gravity  assist  trajectory past Mars on the way to Jupiter.
This trajectory passes within 80 +/-  3  kilometers  of  the
surface  of  Mars. Nobody is going to trust a PASCAL program
(or PASCAL programmer) for navigation to these tolerances.

     As you can tell, many of the world's  Real  Programmers
work  for the U.S.  Government -- mainly the Defense Depart-
ment. This is as it should be.  Recently, however,  a  black
cloud  has  formed on the Real Programmer horizon.  It seems
that some highly placed Quiche Eaters at the Defense Depart-
ment  decided that all Defense programs should be written in
some grand unified language called "ADA" ((r), DoD).  For  a
while,  it seemed that ADA was destined to become a language
that went against all the precepts of Real Programming --  a
language  with structure, a language with data types, strong
typing, and semicolons. In short,  a  language  designed  to
cripple  the  creativity  of  the  typical  Real Programmer.
Fortunately,  the  language  adopted  by  DoD   has   enough
interesting features to make it approachable -- it's incred-
ibly complex, includes methods for messing with the  operat-
ing  system  and  rearranging  memory,  and  Edsgar Dijkstra
doesn't like it [6]. (Dijkstra, as I'm sure  you  know,  was
the  author of "GoTos Considered Harmful" -- a landmark work
in programming methodology, applauded by Pascal  Programmers
and  Quiche Eaters alike.) Besides, the determined Real Pro-
grammer can write FORTRAN programs in any language.

     The real programmer might compromise his principles and
work on something slightly more trivial than the destruction
of life as we know it, providing there's enough money in it.
There  are  several Real Programmers building video games at
Atari, for example. (But not playing them -- a Real Program-
mer  knows  how to beat the machine every time: no challange
in that.) Everyone working at LucasFilm is a  Real  Program-
mer. (It would be crazy to turn down the money of fifty mil-
lion Star Trek fans.) The proportion of Real Programmers  in
Computer  Graphics  is  somewhat lower than the norm, mostly
because nobody has found a use for Computer Graphics yet. On
the other hand, all Computer Graphics is done in FORTRAN, so
there are a fair number people doing Graphics  in  order  to
avoid having to write COBOL programs.

                --- ---- ---------- -- ----

     Generally, the Real Programmer plays the  same  way  he
works  --  with  computers. He is constantly amazed that his
employer actually pays him to do what he would be doing  for
fun anyway (although he is careful not to express this opin-
ion out loud). Occasionally, the Real Programmer  does  step
out  of  the  office for a breath of fresh air and a beer or
two. Some tips on recognizing real programmers away from the
computer room:

*    At a party, the Real Programmers are the  ones  in  the
     corner  talking about operating system security and how
     to get around it.

*    At a football game, the Real Programmer is the one com-
     paring  the plays against his simulations printed on 11
     by 14 fanfold paper.

*    At the beach, the Real Programmer is  the  one  drawing
     flowcharts in the sand.

*    A Real Programmer goes to discos  to  watch  the  light

*    At a funeral, the Real Programmer  is  the  one  saying
     "Poor  George. And he almost had the sort routine work-
     ing before the coronary."

*    In a grocery store, the Real Programmer is the one  who
     insists  on  running  the  cans past the laser checkout
     scanner himself, because he never could trust  keypunch
     operators to get it right the first time.

           --- ---- ------------ ------- -------

     What sort of environment does the Real Programmer func-
tion  best  in?   This  is  an  important  question  for the
managers of Real  Programmers.  Considering  the  amount  of
money  it  costs  to keep one on the staff, it's best to put
him (or her) in an environment where he  can  get  his  work

     The typical Real Programmer lives in front  of  a  com-
puter terminal.  Surrounding this terminal are:

*    Listings of all programs the Real Programmer  has  ever
     worked  on,  piled  in  roughly  chronological order on
     every flat surface in the office.

*    Some half-dozen or so partly filled cups of  cold  cof-
     fee. Occasionally, there will be cigarette butts float-
     ing in the coffee. In some cases, the cups will contain
     Orange Crush.

*    Unless he is very good, there will be copies of the  OS
     JCL manual and the Principles of Operation open to some
     particularly interesting pages.

*    Taped to the wall is a line-printer Snoopy calender for
     the year 1969.

*    Strewn about the floor are several wrappers for  peanut
     butter  filled  cheese  bars  -- the type that are made
     pre-stale at the bakery so they  can't  get  any  worse
     while waiting in the vending machine.

*    Hiding in the top left-hand drawer of  the  desk  is  a
     stash of double-stuff Oreos for special occasions.

*    Underneath the Oreos is a flow-charting template,  left
     there  by  the  previous  occupant of the office. (Real
     Programmers write programs,  not  documentation.  Leave
     that to the maintainence people.)

     The Real Programmer is capable of working 30, 40,  even
50  hours  at a stretch, under intense pressure. In fact, he
prefers it that way. Bad response time  doesn't  bother  the
Real  Programmer  -- it gives him a chance to catch a little
sleep between compiles. If  there  is  not  enough  schedule
pressure  on  the  Real  Programmer, he tends to make things
more challenging by working on some  small  but  interesting
part of the problem for the first nine weeks, then finishing
the  rest  in  the  last  week,  in  two  or  three  50-hour
marathons.  This  not  only  inpresses  the  hell out of his
manager, who was despairing of ever getting the project done
on  time,  but creates a convenient excuse for not doing the
documentation. In general:

*    No Real Programmer works 9 to 5. (Unless it's the  ones
     at night.)

*    Real Programmers don't wear neckties.

*    Real Programmers don't wear high heeled shoes.

*    Real Programmers arrive at work in time for lunch.

*    A Real Programmer might or might not  know  his  wife's
     name.  He  does,  however,  know  the  entire ASCII (or
     EBCDIC) code table.

*    Real Programmers don't know how to cook. Grocery stores
     aren't  open  at three in the morning. Real Programmers
     survive on Twinkies and coffee.

                         THE FUTURE
                         --- ------

     What of the future? It is a matter of some  concern  to
Real Programmers that the latest generation of computer pro-
grammers are not being brought up with the same  outlook  on
life  as  their  elders. Many of them have never seen a com-
puter with a front  panel.  Hardly  anyone  graduating  from
school  these  days can do hex arithmetic without a calcula-
tor. College graduates these days are soft -- protected from
the realities of programming by source level debuggers, text
editors that count parentheses, and "user friendly"  operat-
ing  systems.  Worst of all, some of these alleged "computer
scientists" manage to get degrees without ever learning FOR-
TRAN!  Are we destined to become an industry of Unix hackers
and Pascal programmers?

     From my experience, I can only report that the  future
is  bright  for  Real Programmers everywhere. Neither OS/370
nor FORTRAN show any signs of dying  out,  despite  all  the
efforts  of  Pascal  programmers  the  world over. Even more
subtle tricks, like adding structured coding  constructs  to
FORTRAN  have  failed.   Oh sure, some computer vendors have
come out with FORTRAN 77 compilers, but every  one  of  them
has  a  way of converting itself back into a FORTRAN 66 com-
piler at the drop of an option card -- to compile  DO  loops
like God meant them to be.

     Even Unix might not be as bad on Real Programmers as it
once  was.   The latest release of Unix has the potential of
an operating system worthy of any  Real  Programmer  --  two
different and subtly incompatible user interfaces, an arcane
and complicated teletype  driver,  virtual  memory.  If  you
ignore the fact that it's "structured", even 'C' programming
can be  appreciated  by  the  Real  Programmer:  after  all,
there's  no  type  checking,  variable names are seven (ten?
eight?) characters long, and the added bonus of the  Pointer
data type is thrown in -- like having the best parts of FOR-
TRAN and assembly language in one place.   (Not  to  mention
some of the more creative uses for #define.)

     No, the future isn't all that bad.  Why,  in  the  past
few  years,  the  popular  press  has  even commented on the
bright new crop of computer nerds and hackers ([7] and  [8])
leaving  places like Stanford and M.I.T. for the Real World.
From all evidence, the spirit of Real Programming  lives  on
in  these  young  men  and women.  As long as there are ill-
defined goals,  bizarre  bugs,  and  unrealistic  schedules,
there  will be Real Programmers willing to jump in and Solve
The Problem, saving the documentation for later.  Long  live


     I would like to thank Jan E., Dave S., Rich G., Rich E.
for  their  help  in  characterizing  the  Real  Programmer,
Heather B. for the illustration, Kathy  E.  for  putting  up
with it, and atd!avsdS:mark for the initial inspriration.


[1]    Feirstein, B., Real Men Don't Eat Quiche, New York,
       Pocket Books, 1982.

[2]    Wirth, N., Algorithms + Datastructures = Programs,
       Prentice Hall, 1976.

[3]    Xerox PARC editors . . .

[4]    Finseth, C., Theory and Practice of Text Editors -
       or - a Cookbook for an EMACS, B.S. Thesis,
       MIT/LCS/TM-165, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
       May 1980.

[5]    Weinberg, G., The Psychology of Computer Programming,
       New York, Van Nostrabd Reinhold, 1971, page 110.

[6]    Dijkstra, E., On the GREEN Language Submitted to the DoD,
       Sigplan notices, Volume 3, Number 10, October 1978.

[7]    Rose, Frank, Joy of Hacking, Science 82, Volume 3, Number 9,
       November 1982, pages 58 - 66.

[8]    The Hacker Papers, Psychology Today, August 1980.

- Real programmers don't write specs.  Users should consider
  themselves lucky to get any programs at all and take what they get.

- Real programmers don't comment their code. If it was hard to
  write, it should be hard to read.

- Real programmers don't write application programs, they pro-
  gram right down on the bare metal. Application programming
  is for feebs who can't do systems programming.

- Real programmers don't eat quiche.  Real programmers don't even know how to
  spell quiche.  They eat Twinkies, Coke and palate-scorching Szechwan food.

- Real programmers don't draw flowcharts.  Flowcharts are, after all, the
  illiterate's form of documentation.  Cavemen drew flowcharts; look how
  much it did for them.

- Real programmers don't read manuals.  Reliance on a reference is a hallmark
  of the novice and the coward.

- Real programmers programs never work right the first time.
  But if you throw them on the machine they can be patched
  into working in only a few 30-hours debugging sessions.

- Real programmers don't use Fortran.  Fortran is for wimpy engineers who
  wear white socks, pipe stress freaks, and crystallography weenies.  They
  get excited over finite state analysis and nuclear reactor simulation.

- Real programmers don't use COBOL.  COBOL is for wimpy application

- Real programmers never work 9 to 5. If any real programmers
  are around at 9 am, it's because they were up all night.

- Real programmers don't write in BASIC. Actually, no program-
  mers write in BASIC, after the age of 12.

- Real programmers don't document. Documentation is for simps
  who can't read the listings or the object deck.

- Real programmers don't write in Pascal, or Bliss, or Ada, or
  any of those pinko computer science languages. Strong typing
  is for people with weak memories.

- Real programmers know better than the users what they need.

- Real programmers think structured programming is a communist

- Real programmers don't use schedules. Schedules are for man-
  ager's toadies. Real programmers like to keep their manager
  in suspense.

- Real programmers think better when playing adventure.

- Real programmers don't use PL/I.  PL/I is for insecure momma's boys
  who can't choose between COBOL and Fortran.

- Real programmers don't use APL, unless the whole program can be written
  on one line.

- Real programmers don't use LISP.  Only effeminate programmers use more
  parentheses than actual code.

- Real programmers disdain structured programming.  Structured programming
  is for compulsive, prematurely toilet-trained neurotics who wear neckties
  and carefully line up sharpened pencils on an otherwise uncluttered desk.

- Real programmers don't like the team programming concept.  Unless, of
  course, they are the Chief Programmer.

- Real programmers have no use for managers.  Managers are a necessary evil.
  Managers are for dealing with personnel bozos, bean counters, senior
  planners and other mental defectives.

- Real programmers scorn floating point arithmetic.  The decimal point was
  invented for pansy bedwetters who are unable to "think big."

- Real programmers don't drive clapped-out Mavericks.  They prefer BMWs,
  Lincolns or pick-up trucks with floor shifts.  Fast motorcycles are
  highly regarded.

- Real programmers don't believe in schedules.  Planners make up schedules.
  Managers "firm up" schedules.  Frightened coders strive to meet schedules.
  Real programmers ignore schedules.

- Real programmers like vending machine popcorn.  Coders pop it in the
  microwave oven.  Real programmers use the heat given off by the cpu.
  They can tell what job is running just by listening to the rate of popping.

- Real programmers know every nuance of every instruction and use them all
  in every real program.  Puppy architects won't allow execute instructions
  to address another execute as the target instruction.  Real programmers
  despise such petty restrictions.

- Real programmers don't bring brown bag lunches to work.  If the vending
  machine sells it, they eat it.  If the vending machine doesn't sell it,
  they don't eat it.  Vending machines don't sell quiche.

- Real programmers know that the word is disk, not disc.  Disc is
  a definite commie plot put forth by blubbering quiche eaters.


                   T h e   V O G O N   N e w s   S e r v i c e  

VNS TECHNOLOGY WATCH:                           [Mike Taylor, VNS Correspondent]
=====================                           [Littleton, MA, USA            ]


                     CREATORS ADMIT UNIX, C HOAX

    In an announcement that has stunned the computer industry, Ken Thompson,
    Dennis Ritchie and Brian Kernighan admitted that the Unix operating
    system and C programming language created by them is an elaborate April
    Fools prank kept alive for over 20 years.  Speaking at the recent
    UnixWorld Software Development Forum, Thompson revealed the following:

    "In 1969, AT&T had just terminated their work with the GE/Honeywell/AT&T 
    Multics project. Brian and I had just started working with an early
    release of Pascal from Professor Nichlaus Wirth's ETH labs in
    Switzerland and we were impressed with its elegant simplicity and
    power. Dennis had just finished reading 'Bored of the Rings', a
    hilarious National Lampoon parody of the great Tolkien 'Lord of the
    Rings' trilogy. As a lark, we decided to do parodies of the Multics
    environment and Pascal. Dennis and I were responsible for the operating
    environment. We looked at Multics and designed the new system to be as
    complex and cryptic as possible to maximize casual users' frustration
    levels, calling it Unix as a parody of Multics, as well as other more
    risque allusions. Then Dennis and Brian worked on a truly warped
    version of Pascal, called 'A'. When we found others were actually
    trying to create real programs with A, we quickly added additional
    cryptic features and evolved into B, BCPL and finally C. We stopped
    when we got a clean compile on the following syntax:

    for(;P("\n"),R-;P("|"))for(e=C;e-;P("_"+(*u++/8)%2))P("| "+(*u/4)%2);

    To think that modern programmers would try to use a language that
    allowed such a statement was beyond our comprehension!  We actually
    thought of selling this to the Soviets to set their computer science
    progress back 20 or more years. Imagine our surprise when AT&T and
    other US corporations actually began trying to use Unix and C!  It has
    taken them 20 years to develop enough expertise to generate even
    marginally useful applications using this 1960's technological parody,
    but we are impressed with the tenacity (if not common sense) of the
    general Unix and C programmer.  In any event, Brian, Dennis and I have
    been working exclusively in Pascal on the Apple Macintosh for the past
    few years and feel really guilty about the chaos, confusion and truly
    bad programming that have resulted from our silly prank so long ago."

    Major Unix and C vendors and customers, including AT&T, Microsoft,
    Hewlett-Packard, GTE, NCR, and DEC have refused comment at this time. 
    Borland International, a leading vendor of Pascal and C tools,
    including the popular Turbo Pascal, Turbo C and Turbo C++, stated they
    had suspected this for a number of years and would continue to enhance
    their Pascal products and halt further efforts to develop C.  An IBM
    spokesman broke into uncontrolled laughter and had to postpone a
    hastily convened news conference concerning the fate of the RS-6000,
    merely stating 'VM will be available Real Soon Now'.  In a cryptic
    statement, Professor Wirth of the ETH institute and father of the
    Pascal, Modula 2 and Oberon structured languages, merely stated that P.
    T. Barnum was correct.

    In a related late-breaking story, usually reliable sources are stating
    that a similar confession may be forthcoming from William Gates
    concerning the MS-DOS and Windows operating environments.  And IBM
    spokesman have begun denying that the Virtual Machine (VM) product is
    an internal prank gone awry.
    {contributed by Bernard L. Hayes}

<><><><><><><><>   VNS Edition : 2336     Tuesday  4-Jun-1991   <><><><><><><><>


        Real Computer Scientists Don't Write Code 

                Real Computer Scientists don't write code.  They occasionally 
        tinker with programming systems,  but those are so  high  level  that 
        they  hardly  count  (and  rarely count accurately,  precision is for 

                Real  Computer  Scientists  don't  comment  their  code.  The 
        identifiers are so long they can't afford the disk space.  

                Real Computer Scientists don't write the user interface, they 
        merely argue about what they should look like.  

                Real Computer Scientists don't eat quiche. They shun Schezuan 
        food since the hackers discovered it.  Many Real Computer  Scientists 
        consider eating an implementation detail.  (Others break down and eat 
        with the hackers, but only if they can have ice cream for dessert).  

                If it doesn't have a programming  environment  complete  with 
        interactive  debugger,  structure  editor  and extensive cross module 
        type checking,  Real Computer Scientists won't be seen tinkering with 
        it. They may have to use it to balance their checkbooks, as their own 
        systems can't.  

                Real  Computer  Scientists  don't program in assembler.  They 
        don't write in anything less portable than a number two pencil.  

                Real  Computer  Scientists   don't   debug   programs,   they 
        dynamically modify them.  This is safer,  since no one has invented a 
        way to do anything dynamic to FORTRAN, COBOL or BASIC.  

                Real Computer Scientists like C's structured constructs,  but 
        they  are suspicious of it because it's compiled.  (Only Batch Freaks 
        and Efficiency Weirdos  bother  with  compilers,  they're  soooo  un-

                Real  Computer Scientists play Go.  They have nothing against 
        the concept of mountain climbing,  but  the  actual  climbing  is  an 
        implementation detail best left to programmers.  

                Real  Computer  Scientists  admire  ADA  for its overwhelming 
        esthetic value, but they find it difficult to actually program in, as 
        it is much too large to implement.  Most  Computer  Scientists  don't 
        notice  this  because they are still arguing over what else to add to 

                Real Computer Scientists work from  5  pm  to  9  am  because 
        that's the only time they can get the 8 megabytes of main memory they 
        need  to  edit specs.  (Real work starts around 2 am when enough MIPS 
        are free for their dynamic systems). Real Computer Scientists find it 
        hard to share 3081s when they are doing 'REAL' work.  

                Real Computer Scientists only write specs for languages  that 
        might  run on future hardware.  Nobody trusts them to write specs for 
        anything Homo Sapiens will ever be able to fit on a single planet.  

                Real Computer Scientists like planning their own environments 
        to use bit mapped graphics.  Bit mapped graphics is great because  no 
        one can afford it, so their systems can be experimental.  

                Real Computer Scientists regret the existence of PL/1, PASCAL 
        and  LISP.  ADA is getting there,  but it still allows people to make 

                Real Computer Scientists love the concept of users. Users are 
        always real impressed by the stuff computer  scientists  are  talking 
        about;  it sure sounds better than the stuff they are being forced to 
        use now.  

                Real Computer Scientists despise the idea of actual hardware.  
        Hardware has limitations,  software doesn't.  It's a real shame  that 
        Turing machines are so poor at I/O.  

                Real Computer Scientists love conventions. No one is expected 
        to lug a 3081 attached to a bit map screen to a convention, so no one 
        will ever know how slow their systems run.


        Real Software Engineers Don't Read Dumps

                Real Software Engineers don't read dumps. They never generate 
        them,  and on the rare occasions that they come across them, they are 
        vaguely amused.  

                Real  Software  Engineers  don't  comment  their  code.   The 
        identifiers are so mnemonic they don't have to.  

                Real  Software  Engineers  don't write applications programs, 
        they implement algorithms.  If someone has an  application  that  the 
        algorithm might help with,  that's nice.  Don't ask them to write the 
        user interface, though.  

                Real Software Engineers eat quiche.  

                If it doesn't have recursive function  calls,  Real  Software 
        Engineers don't program in it.  

                Real  Software  Engineers  don't  program in assembler.  They 
        become queasy at the very thought.  

                Real Software Engineers don't  debug  programs,  they  verify 
        correctness.  This  process  doesn't  necessarily  involve  executing 
        anything on a computer, except perhaps a Correctness Verification Aid 

                Real Software Engineers like C's structured  constructs,  but 
        they  are  suspicious  of it because they have heard that it lets you 
        get "close to the machine." 

                Real Software Engineers play tennis.  In general,  they don't 
        like  any  sport  that involves getting hot and sweaty and gross when 
        out of range of a shower. (Thus mountain climbing is Right Out). They 
        will occasionally wear their tennis togs to work,  but only  on  very 
        sunny days.  

                Real  Software Engineers admire PASCAL for its discipline and 
        Spartan purity,  but they find it difficult to actually  program  in.  
        They  don't  tell  this to their friends,  because they are afraid it 
        means they are somehow Unworthy.  

                Real Software Engineers work from 9 to 5, because that is the 
        way the job is described in the formal spec.  Working late would feel 
        like using an undocumented external procedure.  

                Real  Software  Engineers  write  in  languages that have not 
        actually been implemented for any machine,  and for  which  only  the 
        formal  spec  (in  BNF) is available.  This keeps them from having to 
        take any machine dependencies into account. Machine dependencies make 
        Real Software Engineers very uneasy.  

                Real Software Engineers  don't  write  in  ADA,  because  the 
        standards bodies have not quite decided on a formal spec yet.  

                Real  Software  Engineers  like  writing their own compilers, 
        preferably in PROLOG (they also like writing  them  in  unimplemented 
        languages, but it turns out to be difficult to actually RUN these).  

                Real  Software  Engineers  regret  the  existence  of  COBOL, 
        FORTRAN and BASIC;  PL/1 is getting  there,  but  it  is  not  nearly 
        disciplined enough; far too much built-in function.  

                Real  Software Engineers aren't too happy about the existence 
        of users, either. Users always seem to have the wrong idea about what 
        the implementation and verification of algorithms is all about.  

                Real  Software  Engineers  don't  like  the  idea   of   some 
        inexplicable  and  greasy  hardware several aisles away that may stop 
        working at any moment. They have a great distrust of hardware people, 
        and wish that systems could be virtual at ALL levels. They would like 
        personal computers (you know no one's going to  trip  over  something 
        and kill your DFA in mid-transit),  execpt that they need 8 megabytes 
        to run their Correctness Verification Aid packages.  

                Real Software Engineers think better while  playing  WFF  'N' 

        Real Programmers Don't Write Specs.

                Real  Programmers  don't write specs -- users should consider 
        themselves lucky to get any programs at all and take what they get.  

                Real Programmers don't comment their code.  If it was hard to 
        write, it should be hard to understand.  

                Real  Programmers  don't  write  application  programs,  they 
        program down to the bare metal.  Application programming is for feebs 
        who can't do systems programming.  

                Real  Programmers  don't eat quiche.  They eat Twinkies,  and 
        Szechwan food.  

                Real Programmers don't write in COBOL.  COBOL  is  for  wimpy 
        applications programmers.  

                Real Programmers' programs never work right the  first  time.  
        But if you throw them on the machine they can be patched into working 
        in "only a few" 30-hour debugging sessions.  

                Real Programmers don't write in FORTRAN.  FORTRAN is for pipe 
        stress freaks and crystallography weenies.  

                Real  Programmers don't work 9 to 5.  If any Real Programmers 
        are around at 9 AM, it's because they were up all night.  

                Real  Programmers  don't  write  in   BASIC.   Actually,   no 
        programmers write in BASIC, after the age of 12.  

                Real Programmers don't write in PL/1. PL/1 is for programmers 
        who can't decide whether to write in COBOL or FORTRAN.  

                Real Programmers don't write in APL.  Any fool can be obscure 
        in APL.  

                Real Programmers don't play tennis,  or any other sport  that 
        requires  you  to change clothes.  Mountain climbing is OK,  and Real 
        Programmers wear their climbing boots to  work  in  case  a  mountain 
        should suddenly spring up in the middle of the machine room.  

                Real Programmers don't write in PASCAL,  or BLISS, or ADA, or 
        any of those pinko computer science languages.  Strong typing is  for 
        people with weak memories.  

                Real Programmers know better than the users what they need.  

                Real  Programmers think structured programming is a communist 

                Real Programmers  don't  use  schedules.  Schedules  are  for 
        manager's  toadies.  Real  Programmers like to keep their managers in 

                Real Programmers think better while playing ADVENTURE.  

                Real Programmers do it middle-out.  

                Real Programmers enjoy machine coding  PASCAL  compilers  for 
        their micros which they improve but never use.  
                Real Programmers enjoy getting CP/M to work on  370  machines 
        and MVS on their ZX81s.  

                Real  Programmers  write their own assemblers,  preferably in 

                Real Programmers never get annoyed by security systems,  they 
        turn  off  the  RACF bits and leave unsigned messages in the security 
        data sets.  

                Real Programmers never update the source to reflect the ZAPs, 
        after all, it will have changed again tomorrow.  

This was posted to USENET by its author, Ed Nather (utastro!nather), on
May 21, 1983.

     A recent article devoted to the *macho* side of programming
     made the bald and unvarnished statement:

         Real Programmers write in FORTRAN.

     Maybe they do now,
     in this decadent era of
     Lite beer, hand calculators, and "user-friendly" software
     but back in the Good Old Days,
     when the term "software" sounded funny
     and Real Computers were made out of drums and vacuum tubes,
     Real Programmers wrote in machine code.
     Not FORTRAN. Not RATFOR.  Not, even, assembly language.
     Machine Code.
     Raw, unadorned, inscrutable hexadecimal numbers.

     Lest a whole new generation of programmers
     grow up in ignorance of this glorious past,
     I feel duty-bound to describe,
     as best I can through the generation gap,
     how a Real Programmer wrote code.
     I'll call him Mel,
     because that was his name.

     I first met Mel when I went to work for Royal McBee Computer Corp.,
     a now-defunct subsidiary of the typewriter company.
     The firm manufactured the LGP-30,
     a small, cheap (by the standards of the day)
     drum-memory computer,
     and had just started to manufacture
     the RPC-4000, a much-improved,
     bigger, better, faster --- drum-memory computer.
     Cores cost too much,
     and weren't here to stay, anyway.
     (That's why you haven't heard of the company, or the computer.)

     I had been hired to write a FORTRAN compiler
     for this new marvel and Mel was my guide to its wonders.
     Mel didn't approve of compilers.

     "If a program can't rewrite its own code",
     he asked, "what good is it?"

     Mel had written,
     in hexadecimal,
     the most popular computer program the company owned.
     It ran on the LGP-30
     and played blackjack with potential customers
     at computer shows.

     Its effect was always dramatic.
     The LGP-30 booth was packed at every show,
     and the IBM salesmen stood around
     talking to each other.
     Whether or not this actually sold computers
     was a question we never discussed.

     Mel's job was to re-write
     the blackjack program for the RPC-4000.
     (Port?  What does that mean?)
     The new computer had a one-plus-one
     addressing scheme,
     in which each machine instruction,
     in addition to the operation code
     and the address of the needed operand,
     had a second address that indicated where, on the revolving drum,
     the next instruction was located.

     In modern parlance,
     every single instruction was followed by a GO TO!
     Put *that* in Pascal's pipe and smoke it.

     Mel loved the RPC-4000
     because he could optimize his code:
     that is, locate instructions on the drum
     so that just as one finished its job,
     the next would be just arriving at the "read head"
     and available for immediate execution.
     There was a program to do that job,
     an "optimizing assembler",
     but Mel refused to use it.

     "You never know where it's going to put things",
     he explained, "so you'd have to use separate constants".

     It was a long time before I understood that remark.
     Since Mel knew the numerical value
     of every operation code,
     and assigned his own drum addresses,
     every instruction he wrote could also be considered
     a numerical constant.
     and multiply by it,
     if it had the right numeric value.
     His code was not easy for someone else to modify.

     I compared Mel's hand-optimized programs
     with the same code massaged by the optimizing assembler program,
     and Mel's always ran faster.
     That was because the "top-down" method of program design
     hadn't been invented yet,
     and Mel wouldn't have used it anyway.
     He wrote the inner most parts of his program loops first,
     so they would get first choice
     of the optimum address locations on the drum.
     The optimizing assembler wasn't smart enough to do it that way.

     Mel never wrote time-delay loops, either,
     even when the balky Flexowriter
     required a delay between output characters to work right.
     He just located instructions on the drum
     so each successive one was just *past* the read head
     when it was needed;
     the drum had to execute another complete revolution
     to find the next instruction.
     He coined an unforgettable term for this procedure.
     Although "optimum" is an absolute term,
     like "unique", it became common verbal practice
     to make it relative:
     "not quite optimum" or "less optimum"
     or "not very optimum".
     Mel called the maximum time-delay locations
     the "most pessimum".

     After he finished the blackjack program
     and got it to run
     ("Even the initializer is optimized",
     he said proudly),
     he got a Change Request from the sales department.
     The program used an elegant (optimized)
     random number generator
     to shuffle the "cards" and deal from the "deck",
     and some of the salesmen felt it was too fair,
     since sometimes the customers lost.
     They wanted Mel to modify the program
     so, at the setting of a sense switch on the console,
     they could change the odds and let the customer win.

     Mel balked.
     He felt this was patently dishonest,
     which it was,
     and that it impinged on his personal integrity as a programmer,
     which it did,
     so he refused to do it.
     The Head Salesman talked to Mel,
     as did the Big Boss and, at the boss's urging,
     a few Fellow Programmers.
     Mel finally gave in and wrote the code,
     but he got the test backwards,
     and, when the sense switch was turned on,
     the program would cheat, winning every time.
     Mel was delighted with this,
     claiming his subconscious was uncontrollably ethical,
     and adamantly refused to fix it.

     After Mel had left the company for greener pa$ture$,
     the Big Boss asked me to look at the code
     and see if I could find the test and reverse it.
     Somewhat reluctantly, I agreed to look.
     Tracking Mel's code was a real adventure.

     I have often felt that programming is an art form,
     whose real value can only be appreciated
     by another versed in the same arcane art;
     there are lovely gems and brilliant coups
     hidden from human view and admiration, sometimes forever,
     by the very nature of the process.
     You can learn a lot about an individual
     just by reading through his code,

     Mel was, I think, an unsung genius.

     Perhaps my greatest shock came
     when I found an innocent loop that had no test in it.
     No test.  *None*.
     Common sense said it had to be a closed loop,
     where the program would circle, forever, endlessly.
     Program control passed right through it, however,
     and safely out the other side.
     It took me two weeks to figure it out.

     The RPC-4000 computer had a really modern facility
     called an index register.
     It allowed the programmer to write a program loop
     that used an indexed instruction inside;
     each time through,
     the number in the index register
     was added to the address of that instruction,
     so it would refer
     to the next datum in a series.
     He had only to increment the index register
     each time through.
     Mel never used it.

     Instead, he would pull the instruction into a machine register,
     add one to its address,
     and store it back.
     He would then execute the modified instruction
     right from the register.
     The loop was written so this additional execution time
     was taken into account ---
     just as this instruction finished,
     the next one was right under the drum's read head,
     ready to go.
     But the loop had no test in it.

     The vital clue came when I noticed
     the index register bit,
     the bit that lay between the address
     and the operation code in the instruction word,
     was turned on ---
     yet Mel never used the index register,
     leaving it zero all the time.
     When the light went on it nearly blinded me.

     He had located the data he was working on
     near the top of memory ---
     the largest locations the instructions could address ---
     so, after the last datum was handled,
     incrementing the instruction address
     would make it overflow.
     The carry would add one to the
     operation code, changing it to the next one in the instruction set:
     a jump instruction.
     Sure enough, the next program instruction was
     in address location zero,
     and the program went happily on its way.

     I haven't kept in touch with Mel,
     so I don't know if he ever gave in to the flood of
     change that has washed over programming techniques
     since those long-gone days.
     I like to think he didn't.
     In any event,
     I was impressed enough that I quit looking for the
     offending test,
     telling the Big Boss I couldn't find it.
     He didn't seem surprised.

     When I left the company,
     the blackjack program would still cheat
     if you turned on the right sense switch,
     and I think that's how it should be.
     I didn't feel comfortable
     hacking up the code of a Real Programmer.