Programmer Quotes

Since I am an economist and not a computer scientist I sometimes feel like I’m not a real programmer, even though I spend hours hacking together bad code. One of my feelings of inadequacy is that all my programs seem to spend 85% of the time on what I have come to call “plumbing” and only 15% on actually doing useful stuff. According to this quote I ran across today, I’m way better than average:

Less than 10% of the code has to do with the ostensible purpose of the system; the rest deals with input-output, data validation, data structure maintenance, and other housekeeping.

Mary Shaw
Carnegie-Mellon University

Ahhh…. I’m gooood. Beer time, baby!


  1. Mary Shaw says:

    Wow — it’s been a long time since I said that, maybe 30 years or so. It’s really interesting that you still see the same thing.

  2. J DeLong says:

    Oh man… I was all proud of myself for being above average. Turns out that Ms. Shaw made that quote 30 years ago. So I am slightly more productive than a programmer when I was 6. Shoot me right friggin now.

  3. [...] a comment on my blog, I have to give a shout out to Mary Shaw. Ms. Shaw posed a comment to an earlier post of mine where I quoted her. It turns out that she has been active in technology for longer than I have been able to legally [...]

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