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Real Programmers — Do's & Dont's

What real programmers never do

It all began with paraphrasing the title of a book called "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche" (published 1982) in a letter to a computer magazine named Datamation. So the phrase Real Programmers Don't Use Pascal was created. "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." [Ed Post, 1983]

It was soon followed by many others, like Real Programmers Don't Comment their Code, Real Programmers Don't eat Quiche, etc.


Widely circulated on Usenet in former times, and nowadays on the Internet, these humorous statements are well known within the computer software industry. The article mentioned above compares and contrasts real programmers, who use punch cards and write programs in FORTRAN or assembly language, with modern-day "quiche eaters" who use programming languages such as Pascal which support structured programming and impose restrictions meant to prevent or minimize common bugs due to inadvertent programming logic.

Real programmers ...

  1. don't write specs. Users should consider themselves lucky to get any programs at all and take what they get.

  2. don't comment their code. If it was hard to write, it should be hard to read.

  3. don't write application programs, they program right down on the bare metal. Application programming is for feebs who can't do systems programming.

  4. don't eat quiche. Real programmers don't even know how to spell quiche. They eat Twinkies, Coke and palate-scorching Szechwan food.

  5. don't draw flowcharts. Flowcharts are, after all, the illiterate's form of documentation. Cavemen drew flowcharts; look how much it did for them.

  6. don't read manuals. Reliance on a reference is a hallmark of the novice and the coward.

  7. 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-hours debugging sessions.

  8. don't use Fortran. Fortran is for wimpy engineers who wear white socks, pipe stress freaks, and crystallography weenies. They get excited over finite state analysis and nuclear reactor simulation.

  9. don't use COBOL. COBOL is for wimpy application programmers.

  10. never work 9 to 5. If any real programmers are around at 9 am, it's because they were up all night.

  11. don't write in BASIC. Actually, no programmers write in BASIC, after the age of 12.

  12. don't document. Documentation is for simps who can't read the listings or the object deck.

  13. 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.

  14. know better than the users what they need.

  15. think structured programming is a communist plot.

  16. don't use schedules. Schedules are for man- ager's toadies. Real programmers like to keep their manager in suspense.

  17. think better when playing adventure.

  18. don't use PL/I. PL/I is for insecure momma's boys who can't choose between COBOL and Fortran.

  19. don't use APL, unless the whole program can be written on one line.

  20. don't use LISP. Only effeminate programmers use more parentheses than actual code.

  21. disdain structured programming. Structured programming is for compulsive, prematurely toilet-trained neurotics who wear neckties and carefully line up sharpened pencils on an otherwise uncluttered desk.

  22. don't like the team programming concept. Unless, of course, they are the Chief Programmer.

  23. have no use for managers. Managers are a necessary evil. Managers are for dealing with personnel bozos, bean counters, senior planners and other mental defectives.

  24. scorn floating point arithmetic. The decimal point was invented for pansy bedwetters who are unable to "think big."

  25. don't drive clapped-out Mavericks. They prefer BMWs, Lincolns or pick-up trucks with floor shifts. Fast motorcycles are highly regarded.

  26. don't believe in schedules. Planners make up schedules. Managers "firm up" schedules. Frightened coders strive to meet schedules. Real programmers ignore schedules.

  27. like vending machine popcorn. Coders pop it in the microwave oven. Real programmers use the heat given off by the cpu. They can tell what job is running just by listening to the rate of popping.

  28. know every nuance of every instruction and use them all in every real program. Puppy architects won't allow execute instructions to address another execute as the target instruction. Real programmers despise such petty restrictions.

  29. don't bring brown bag lunches to work. If the vending machine sells it, they eat it. If the vending machine doesn't sell it, they don't eat it. Vending machines don't sell quiche.

  30. Real programmers know that the word is disk, not disc. Disc is a definite commie plot put forth by blubbering quiche eaters.