Real Programmer

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The term Real Programmer is computer programmers' folklore to describe the archetypical "hardcore" programmer who eschews the modern languages and tools of the day in favour of more direct and efficient solutions – closer to the hardware. The alleged defining features of a "Real Programmer" are extremely subjective, differing with time and place, in the fashion of the "no true Scotsman" fallacy.

The archetypal Real Programmer is Mel Kaye of the Royal McBee Computer Corporation who is immortalised in The Story of Mel, one of the most famous pieces of hacker folklore. As the story famously puts it, "He wrote in machine code – in 'raw, unadorned, inscrutable hexadecimal numbers. Directly."'

Modernization of the real programmer[edit]

Over the years, the figure of the "Real Programmer" was taken up and adapted as new and more powerful programming languages were created. If the real programmer of the 1980s did it "all in FORTRAN" instead of Pascal,[1] one of the 1990s might have done it "all in C", rather than C++ or Java, or "all in Perl" rather than Python or Ruby.

The term is often used to describe a more bare-metal way of doing something — for example: "Real Programmers don't use IDEs, they write programs using cat > a.out" (that is, they write machine-readable binary files from beginning to end without making any mistakes). Each generation tends to slightly redefine a Real Programmer, as coding techniques change. For instance, a young Java programmer might refer to an older C programmer as being a Real Programmer. In turn, these C programmers refer to older Assembly programmers in the same way.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "... Real Programmers use FORTRAN. Quiche Eaters use PASCAL ..."

External links[edit]