Who is a Real Programmer?

I read this essay the first time several years back and bookmarked it immediately. However, like all bookmarks, I forgot all about it. Recently while killing time online, I found a link to it and re-read it; the essay is still as funny as it was the first time. So obviously it warrants a better bookmark.

It includes gems like:

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 USENET and write adventure games and research papers.

…and…

One of my favorite Real Programmers was a systems programmer for Texas Instruments. One day, he got a long distance call from a user whose system had crashed in the middle of 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 usually includes a keypunch and lineprinter in his toolkit, he can get along with just a front panel and a telephone in emergencies.

…and…

There are several Real Programmers building video games at Atari, for example. (But not playing them. A Real Programmer knows how to beat the machine every time: no challange in that.)

…and…

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.

The whole essay basically is an endless collection of punchlines. A great read, highly recommended!

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