College of Alameda
Copyright © 2006 Patrick McDermott
Anders Hejlsberg: [“Father” of C#]: I guess I’m
becoming less and less of a believer in revolutionary
approaches to language design. It really is amazing how
much the capabilities of computing have evolved, yet
we’re basically still using the same kinds of
programming languages. It gives me hope that we can
go even further with an evolutionary approach where
we don’t just invalidate all the work that went before.
Robert Glass: Hype, and the notion of one-size-fitsall undermine out ability to put together projectfocused, strong, sensible solutions. We continue to seek
the Holy Grail while knowledgeable people tell us over
and over again that we are not going to find it.
More Moore?
• Array of 100 items versus 100,000,000
– No person on earth owned such a computer
– Both arrays took me about as long to program
• If Moore’s Law is correct
– 2011 is 47,453,133 times 1960 (Cobol released)
– Autos don’t get 1,000,000,000,000 mpg
– But if there was a Microsoft ® Auto
• Freeze every 1,000 miles or so, needs to be restarted
• Every 10,000 miles or so, blows up killing all aboard
If builders built buildings the way programmers write
programs, then the first woodpecker that came along
would destroy civilization.
• If Software was like Hardware
– No one would need to be “a programmer”
• “The (part-time) programmer for the world”
– New programmer == 1 billion old programmers!
• We can do things we couldn’t
– But not 50 billion times as good
– All advances essentially due to Hardware
• Linux is More of the Same
Essence & Accident
• Fred Brooks’ “No Silver Bullet” is still true
• Programming is less than half the problem
• Eliminate Programming Phase entirely
– You wouldn’t even double productivity
• not to mention an order-of-magnitude improvement
“Not only are there no silver bullets in view, the very
nature of software makes it unlikely there will be any—no
inventions that will do for software productivity, reliability,
and simplicity what electronics, transistors, and large-scale
integration did for computer hardware.”
• After 100,000 years
– Need same Nutrients
– Need same Rest
– Have same Emotions
• Progress?
BUT Optimism
• More Secure
• More Interesting
• Longer Lives
• We Might be the last
generation that thinks
100 is Old.
Heinrich Hoerle
Digital Harmony
Quantity Era
Mechanical technology
Economies of scale
Advance-planning emphasis
Hierarchical organizations
Value from volume
Technology islands
Environmental exploitation
Quality Era
Programmable control
Economies of speed
Customer feedback emphasis
Team-based organizations
Value from performance
Technology overlap
Environmental concern
Harmony Era
Direct information access
Economies of convenience
Personalized emphasis
Architectural organizations
Value from coherence
Technology merger
Environmental renewal
Penzias, Arno, Digital Harmony: Business, Technology & Life After Paperwork, New York:
HarperBusiness (0-88730-785-X), 1996 (1995).
Machines of
Loving Grace
I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky
I like to think
(right now, please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms
Machines of Loving Grace
I like to think
(it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace
Richard Brautigan, 1967

Software Advances Slowly