Back in the good old days…
– the Golden Era of computers, it was easy to separate the men from the boys (sometimes called Real Men and “Quiche Eaters” in the literature).
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
(they actually talked in capital letters sometimes), 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.”
But, as usual, times change.
We are faced today with a world in which little old ladies can get computerized television remote controls, 12 year old kids can blow Real Men out of the water playing Sony Play Stations and X-Boxes, 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 business-school students with Windows running drag and drop programming languages like Visual Basic!
Some companies don’t even understand the difference between some network-weenie with a Microsoft or Cisco certification and a real programmer.
There is a clear need to point out the differences between the typical business-school Visual Basic user or network-weenie and a Real Programmer. Understanding these differences will give these kids something to aspire to — a role model, a Father Figure.
It will also help employers of Real Programmers to realize why it would be a mistake to replace the Real Programmers on their staff with 12 year script kiddies (at a considerable salary savings).
Moreover, they might keep the network kiddies out of sight and out of the real programmers machines.
The same goes for those self-proclaimed Hackers running warez websites…
mere code kittens who end up running cable with an A+ certification. Real programmers hack out eloquent solutions, not email scripts.
Real Programmers Today
- 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 disdain structured programming. Structured programming is for compulsive neurotics who were permanently toilet trained. They wear neckties and carefully line up sharp pencils on an otherwise clear desk.
- Real Programmers can write five page long DO loops without getting confused.
- Real Programmers enjoy Arithmetic IF statements because they make the code more interesting.
- Real Programmers write self-modifying code, especially if it saves them 20 nanoseconds in the middle of a tight loop.
- Real Programmers don’t use Visual programs, they program right down on the bare metal. Visual programming is for feebs who can’t do system programming.
- Real Programmers don’t read manuals. Reliance on a reference manual is the hallmark of the novice and the coward.
- Real Programmers don’t write in RPG. RPG is for gum-chewing dimwits who maintain ancient payroll programs.
- Real Programmers don’t eat quiche. They eat Twinkies. And Szechwan food. (Do not go to eat Szechwan food with a group of Real Programmers unless you are prepared to argue bitterly over the last spring roll.)
- Real Programmers aren’t scared of GOTOs… but they really prefer branches to absolute locations.
- Real Programmers don’t write COBOL. COBOL is for wimpy application programmers.
- Real Programmers don’t write in PL/1. PL/1 is for insecure anal-retentives who can’t choose between COBOL and FORTRAN.
- 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 never work 9 to 5. If they 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 age twelve.
- Real Programmers cook their microwave pop-corn on the CPU. They can tell when it’s done by watching the running processes.
- Real Programmers have no use for managers. Managers are a necessary evil. They exist only to deal 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 believe in schedules. Planners make up schedules. Managers “firm up” schedules. Frightened coders strive to meet schedules. Real Programmers ignore schedules.
- Real Programmers don’t play tennis, or any other sport which 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 computer room.
- Real Programmers don’t do documentation. Documentation is for simps who can’t figure out the listing.
- 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 at Play
- 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 comparing 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 a club to watch the light show.
- At a funeral, the Real Programmer is the one saying “Poor George. And he almost had the sort routine working 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.
Real Programmers Natural Habitat
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 coffee. Occasionally, there will be cigarette butts floating in the coffee.
In some cases, the cups will contain Diet Pepsi.
Strewn about the floor are several wrappers for peanut butter filled cheese bars (the type that are made 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.
Real Programmers Basic Rules
- 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 often open at 3 a.m., so they survive on peanut crackers and coffee.