Real Programmers Don't Use Pascal

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"Real Programmers Don't Use Pascal" (a parody of the bestselling 1982 tongue-in-cheek book on stereotypes about masculinity Real Men Don't Eat Quiche) is an essay[1] about computer programming written by Ed Post of Tektronix, Inc., and published in July 1983 as a letter to the editor in Datamation.[2]

Widely circulated on Usenet in its day, and well known in the computer software industry[3] the article 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 errors. Also mentioned are feats such as the inventor of the Cray-1 supercomputer toggling in[4] the first operating system for the CDC 7600 through the front panel without notes when it was first powered on.

The next year Ed Nather’s "The realest programmer of all"[5] USENET posting extended the theme, as have many subsequent articles,[6][7][8] webcomics[9] and in-jokes—with the alleged defining features of a "Real Programmer" differing with time and place, in the way of the "no true Scotsman".

The Real Programmer in computer folklore[edit]

The term Real Programmer in computer folklore has come 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.[3] 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."'

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Post, Ed (July 1983). "Real Programmers Don't Use Pascal". Datamation. Archived from the original on 2012-02-02.  "... Real Programmers use FORTRAN. Quiche Eaters use PASCAL ..."
  2. ^ Volume 29 number 7
  3. ^ a b Eric S. Raymond, editor (July 27, 1993). "Real Programmer". The New Hacker's Dictionary. Retrieved 2008-03-28. 
  4. ^ Toggling in refers to setting an array of toggle switches or rocker switches which supplement program memory
  5. ^ Matt Crawford The realest programmer of all Newsgroup: net.jokes November 20, 1984.
  6. ^ Ian Gorton (November 1995). "Real Programmers Do Use Delphi". IEEE Software (IEEE Computer Society) 12 (6): 8–12. doi:10.1109/52.469755. Retrieved 2008-03-28. 
  7. ^ Erik Brunvand (October 15, 1996). "The Heroic Hacker: Legends of the Computer Age" (POSTSCRIPT). p. 4. Retrieved 2008-03-28. 
  8. ^ "More About Real Programmers". Archived from the original on 2008-04-19. Retrieved 2008-03-28. 
  9. ^ REAL programmers

External links[edit]