The Real Programmer Stories

Joachim Feise (
Sat, 23 May 1998 00:47:37 -0700

I didn't find the classic "Real Programmers don't use Pascal" story archived in
It's a shame! The most influencial piece of email that came through UUCP is not
on FoRK!
Or am I the only one on this list old enough to remember this?

Anyway, here it is, together with other related stories:


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 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 "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

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).