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Subject RE: [42] So you wanna be a REAL programmer, huh?
Date Fri, 20 Sep 2002 15:03:27 GMT

Wow! Someone with almost the same history as me.
Except I wrote disk and device I/O for the IBM 3630. Other long-forgotten
exotics in my past:
- PL/S (let you mix 360 Assembler code and macros with PL/1) available on 360
and Series1 (remember him?)
- IBM A/S (A supposed 4GL) I still have not met anyone who knows this. Ran on
370 and used either IMS, VSAM, DB2 data.
-The venerable IDMS environment and IDMS ADSO (this probably doesn't quite
qualify as an exotic, but I think a little more than ADABAS)
- Snobol

And, of course, I'll never forget my time at IBM in the 80s writing code and
macro-generation programs for IMS using.....SGML! I became a fanatic about it
and used to tell everyone how much better is was than sliced toast. No one
listened :-{ back then.

Those were the days.....

"Jerry Jalenak" <> on 09/20/2002 09:19:03 AM

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Subject:  RE: [42] So you wanna be a REAL programmer, huh?

Mark - I hadn't seen this tome in some years.  After reading it, I got to
thinking about the past 20 years of my career, and all of the programming
languaes etc. that I've been through.  This will probably date me, but here

My first programming language exposure was in high school using Basic on a
time-shared HP mid-range - not sure what the OS was.  In college it was on
to IBM Assembler, Fortran, COBOL, and PL/1 - my first 'structured' language.
Even picked up some of the quiche-eaters Pascal.  In college I worked at a
small company writing 8080/8085 assembler programs and burning our own
'PROMS' - talk about low-level programming!  It was kinda cool writing our
own disk I/O drivers (until you screwed up the timings!)  On to the real
world, writing (yes it's true) accounting programs in Fortran for an
aircraft manufacturer (this was before the day of buying a 'real' accounting
package!)  Went from an applications group to a technical support group
maintaining an MVS/SP (successor to OS/370 for those of you who don't know).
Spent the next 15 years down in the bowels of MVS/XA/ESA, VM/XA, VSE/SP,
CICS, etc. etc. writing exits to the OS in assembler, as well as doing
installation, maintainance, etc.  Finally got tried of the late night phone
calls and got into a business support role writing SAS programs.  Managed to
get a job (this one) where I'm finally catching up with all of you in Java


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Galbreath, Mark []
> Sent: Friday, September 20, 2002 6:20 AM
> To: Struts (E-mail)
> Subject: [42] So you wanna be a REAL programmer, huh?
> Real Programmers Don't Use Pascal
> 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
> who understood computer programming, and the Quiche Eaters
> were the ones who
> 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 by 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
> Fortran.
> 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 doing.
> 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 techniques. They don't all agree on exactly
> which constructs,
> of course, and the example 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 example 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 Programmers 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 obvious.
> *  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 programming 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.
> What kind of operating system is used by a Real Programmer? 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 outstanding 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 possible 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.
> 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 whenever 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
> Seymore 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.
> Seymore, needless to say, is a Real Programmer.
> 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 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 usually includes a keypunch and line printer in
> his toolkit, he
> can get along with just a front panel and a telephone in emergencies.
> 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 precise.
> 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 subroutine.
> 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 maintenance systems. A Real Programmer
> keeps his code
> locked up in a card file, because it implies that its owner
> cannot leave his
> important programs 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
> Programmer wants
> tasks of earth-shaking importance (literally!).
> *  Real Programmers work for Los Alamos National
> Laboratory, writing
> atomic bomb simulations to run on Cray I supercomputers.
> *  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 operation
> 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 photographed 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 Department. 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
> Department
> decided that all Defense programs should be written in some
> grand unified
> language called "ADA" ((C), 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 had enough interesting features to make it approachable-- it's
> incredibly complex, includes methods for messing with the
> operating system
> and rearranging memory, and Edsger 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
> Programmer 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 Programmer
> knows how to beat the machine every time: no challenge in
> that.) Everyone
> working at LucasFilm is a Real Programmer. (It would be crazy
> to turn down
> the money of fifty million 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 of
> 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
> opinion 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 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.
> *  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.
> What sort of environment does the Real Programmer function
> 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 done.
> The typical Real Programmer lives in front of a computer 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 coffee.
> Occasionally, there will be cigarette butts floating 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 calendar 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 maintenence 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 impresses 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.
> What of the future? It is a matter of some concern to Real
> Programmers that
> the latest generation of computer programmers are not being
> brought up with
> the same outlook on life as their elders. Many of them have
> never seen a
> computer with a front panel. Hardly anyone graduating from
> school these days
> can do hex arithmetic without a calculator. College graduates
> these days are
> soft-- protected from the realities of programming by source level
> debuggers, text editors that count parentheses, and "user friendly"
> operating systems. Worst of all, some of these alleged
> "computer scientists"
> manage to get degrees without ever learning Fortran! 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 Pas- cal 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 compiler 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 Fortran 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 MIT
> 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
> Fortran!

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