Real Programmers Don't Use Pascal

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


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 Seymour Cray, the inventor of the Cray-1 supercomputer, using manual control switches to load the first operating system for the CDC 7600 without notes.

The next year Ed Nather’s The Story of Mel, also known as The realest programmer of all, extended the theme. Immortalized in the piece is Mel Kaye of the Royal McBee Computer Corporation. As the story famously puts it, "He wrote in machine code—in 'raw, unadorned, inscrutable hexadecimal numbers. Directly.'"

Since then, the computer folklore term Real Programmer 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 term is used in many subsequent articles,[4][5][6] webcomics[7] and in-jokes—although the alleged defining features of a "Real Programmer" differ with time and place.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Post, Ed (July 1983). "Real Programmers Don't Use Pascal". Originally in Datamation. Archived from the original on 2012-02-06.
  2. ^ Note: Graphic Software Systems was a 1981 spin-off of Tektronix
  3. ^ a b Eric S. Raymond, ed. (July 27, 1993). "Real Programmer". The New Hacker's Dictionary. Retrieved 2008-03-28.
  4. ^ Ian Gorton (November 1995). "Real Programmers Do Use Delphi". IEEE Software. 12 (6). IEEE Computer Society: 8–12. doi:10.1109/52.469755. Retrieved 2008-03-28.
  5. ^ Erik Brunvand (October 15, 1996). "The Heroic Hacker: Legends of the Computer Age" (PostScript). p. 4. Retrieved 2008-03-28.
  6. ^ "More About Real Programmers". Archived from the original on 2008-04-19. Retrieved 2008-03-28.
  7. ^ REAL programmers


  1. ^ Volume 29 number 7

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