real operating system
= R =
Real Programmer n.
[indirectly, from the book "Real
Men Don't Eat Quiche"] A particular sub-variety of hacker: one
possessed of a flippant attitude toward complexity that is arrogant
even when justified by experience. The archetypal `Real
Programmer' likes to program on the bare metal and is very
good at same, remembers the binary opcodes for every machine he has
ever programmed, thinks that HLLs are sissy, and uses a debugger to
edit his code because full-screen editors are for wimps. Real
Programmers aren't satisfied with code that hasn't been bummed
into a state of tenseness just short of rupture. Real
Programmers never use comments or write documentation: "If it was
hard to write", says the Real Programmer, "it should be hard to
understand." Real Programmers can make machines do things that
were never in their spec sheets; in fact, they are seldom really
happy unless doing so. A Real Programmer's code can awe with its
fiendish brilliance, even as its crockishness appalls. Real
Programmers live on junk food and coffee, hang line-printer art on
their walls, and terrify the crap out of other programmers --
because someday, somebody else might have to try to understand
their code in order to change it. Their successors generally
consider it a Good Thing that there aren't many Real
Programmers around any more. For a famous (and somewhat more
positive) portrait of a Real Programmer, see "The Story of Mel" in Appendix A. The term itself was popularized by a
letter to the editor in the July 1983 Datamation titled "Real
Programmers Don't Use Pascal" by Ed Post, still circulating on
Usenet and Internet in on-line form.
Typing "Real Programmers Don't Use Pascal" into a web
search engine should turn up a copy.
--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.