A software engineer, a hardware engineer and a department manager were on their way to a meeting in Switzerland. They were driving down a steep mountain road when suddenly the brakes on their car failed. The car careened almost out of control down the road, bouncing off the crash barriers, until it miraculously ground to a halt scraping along the mountainside.

The car's occupants, shaken but unhurt, now had a problem: they were stuck halfway down a mountain in a car with no brakes. What were they to do?

"I know," said the department manager, "Let's have a meeting, propose a Vision, formulate a Mission Statement, define some Goals and by a process of Continuous Improvement find a solution to the Critical Problems, and we can be on our way."

"No, no," said the hardware engineer, "That will take far too long, and besides, that method has never worked before. I've got my Swiss Army knife with me, and in no time at all I can strip down the car's braking system, isolate the fault, fix it and we can be on our way."

"Well," said the software engineer, "Before we do anything, I think we should push the car back up the road and see if it happens again."

Creators admit Unix & C hoax

In an announcement that has stunned the computer industry, Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and Brian Kernighan admitted that the Unix operating system and C programming language created by them is an elaborate April Fools prank kept alive for over 30 years. Speaking at the recent UnixWorld Software Development Forum, Thompson revealed the following:

"In 1969, AT&T had just terminated their work with the GE/Honeywell/AT&T Multics project. Brian and I had just started working with an early release of Pascal from Professor Nichlaus Wirth's ETH labs in Switzerland and we were impressed with its elegant simplicity and power. Dennis had just finished reading 'Bored of the Rings', a hilarious National Lampoon parody of the great Tolkien 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy. As a lark, we decided to do parodies of the Multics environment and Pascal. Dennis and I were responsible for the operating environment. We looked at Multics and designed the new system to be as complex and cryptic as possible to maximize casual users' frustration levels, calling it Unix as a parody of Multics, as well as other more risqué allusions. Then Dennis and Brian worked on a truly warped version of Pascal, called 'A'. When we found others were actually trying to create real programs with A, we quickly added additional cryptic features and evolved into B, BCPL and finally C.

We stopped when we got a clean compile on the following syntax:

for(;P("\n"),R--;P("|"))for(e=C;e--;P("_"+(*u++/8)%2))P("|"+(*u/4) %2);

To think that modern programmers would try to use a language that allowed such a statement was beyond our comprehension! We actually thought of selling this to the Soviets to set their computer science progress back 20 or more years. Imagine our surprise when AT&T and other US corporations actually began trying to use Unix and C! It took them 20 years to develop enough expertise to generate even marginally useful applications using this 1960's technological parody, but we are impressed with the tenacity (if not common sense) of the general Unix and C programmer. In any event, Brian, Dennis and I have been working exclusively in Ada on the Apple Macintosh for the past few years and feel really guilty about the chaos, confusion and truly bad programming that have resulted from our silly prank so long ago."

Major Unix and C vendors and customers, including AT&T, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, GTE, NCR, and DEC have refused comment at this time. Borland International, a leading vendor of Pascal and C tools, including the popular Turbo Pascal, Turbo C and Turbo C++, stated they had suspected this for a number of years and would continue to enhance their Pascal products and halt further efforts to develop C. An IBM spokesman broke into uncontrolled laughter and had to postpone a hastily convened news conference concerning the fate of the RS-6000, merely stating 'VM will be available Real Soon Now'. In a cryptic statement, Professor Wirth of the ETH institute and father of the Pascal, Modula 2 and Oberon structured languages, merely stated that P. T. Barnum was correct.

A guy was crossing a road one day when a frog called out to him and said, "If you kiss me, I'll turn into a beautiful princess." He bent over, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket.

The frog spoke up again and said, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will stay with you for a week." The guy took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to his pocket.

The frog then cried out, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I'll stay with you and do anything you want." Again the guy took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket.

Finally the frog asked, "What is the matter? I've told you I'm a beautiful princess, that I'll stay with you for a week and do anything you want. Why won't you kiss me?" The guy said, "Listen, I'm a software engineer. I don't have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog is cool."

At a recent real-time Java conference, the participants were given an awkward question to answer:

"If you had just boarded an airliner and discovered that your team of programmers had been responsible for the flight control software, how many of you would disembark immediately?"

Among the forest of raised hands only one man sat motionless. When asked what he would do, he replied that he would be quite content to stay aboard. With his team's software, he said, the plane was unlikely to even taxi as far as the runway, let alone take off.


NEW YORK - People for the Ethical Treatment of Software (PETS) announced today that more software companies have been added to the groups "watch list" of companies that regularly practice software testing.

"There is no need for software to be mistreated in this way so that companies like these can market new products," said Ken Granola, a spokesman for PETS. "Alternative methods of testing these products are available."

According to PETS, these companies force software to undergo lengthy and arduous test - often without rest - for hours or days at a time. Employees are assigned to "break" the software by any means necessary and inside sources report that they often joke about "torturing" the software.

"It's no joke," Granola said. "Innocent programs, from the day they are compiled, are cooped up in tiny rooms and 'crashed' for hours on end. They spend their whole lives on dirty, ill-maintained computers, and they are unceremoniously deleted when they're not needed anymore."

Granola said that the software is kept in unsanitary conditions and is infested with bugs.

"We know alternatives to this horror exist," he said, citing industry giant Microsoft Corp. as a company that has become successful without resorting to software testing.

 Sun Microsystems Sues Island of Java

Mountain View, CA -- Sun Microsystems today filed a trademark infringement against the island of Java over the use of Sun's
Java trademark.

Responding to criticism that the island has been called Java for centuries, Sun lawyer Frank Cheatham said "Yeah, and in all that time they never filed for a trademark. They deserve to lose the name."

Rather than pay the licensing fee, the island decided to change its name. They originally voted to change it to Visu Albasic, but
an angry telegram from Redmond, Washington convinced them otherwise. The country finally settled on a symbol for a name -- a neatly-colored coffee cup which still evokes the idea of java. Since most newspapers and magazines will not be able to print the name of the island, it will hereafter be referred to in print as "The Island Formerly Known As Java".

The Island Formerly Known As Java bills itself as a cross-landmass island, but so far has only been implemented in production on the Malay Archipelago. Africa is been rumored to have implemented it on Madagascar, but it is still in alpha testing.

Lawyers from Sun would also like to locate the owners of the huge fiery ball at the center of the solar system. They have some legal papers for them...

A programmer and a software engineer are sitting next to each other on a long flight from San Jose to Bangalore. The programmer leans over to the software engineer and asks if he would like to play a fun game. The software engineer just wants to take a nap, so he politely declines and rolls over to the window to catch a few winks.

The programmer persists and explains that the game is real easy and great fun. He explains "I ask you a question, and if you don't know the answer, you pay me $10. Then you ask me a question, and if I don't know the answer, I'll pay you $10.". Again, the software engineer politely declines and tries to get to sleep. The programmer, now some what agitated, says, "OK, if you don't know the answer you pay me $10, and if I don't know the answer, I'll pay you $100!" This catches the software engineer's attention, and he sees no end to this torment unless he plays, so he agrees to the game. The programmer asks the first question. "What's the distance from the earth to the moon?" The software engineer doesn't say a word, but reaches into his wallet, pulls out a ten dollar bill and hands it to the programmer. Now, it's the software engineer's turn. He asks the programmer "What goes up a hill with three legs, and comes down on four?"

The programmer looks up at him with a puzzled look. He takes out his laptop computer and searches all of his references. He taps into the air phone with his modem and searches the net and the Library of Congress. Frustrated, he sends e-mail to his co-workers all to no avail. After about an hour, he wakes the software engineer and hands him $100. The software engineer politely takes the $100 and turns away to try to get back to sleep. The programmer, more than a little miffed, shakes the software engineer and asks "Well, so what's the answer?"

Without a word, the software engineer reaches into his wallet, hands the programmer $10, and turns away to get back to sleep.


A surgeon, a civil engineer, and a software engineer were arguing about whose was the oldest profession.


The surgeon remarked,  Well, in the Bible it says that God created Eve from a rib taken from Adam.  This clearly required surgery so I can rightly claim that mine is the oldest of our professions.

The civil engineer interrupted and said  But even earlier in the book of Genesis, it states that God created the order out of the heavens and the earth from out of the chaos.  This was the first and certainly the most spectacular application of civil engineering. Therefore, you are wrong.   Mine is the oldest profession.

The software engineer leaned back in his chair, smiled, and said confidently,  Ah, but who do you think created the chaos?



A programmer is walking along a beach and finds a lamp. He rubs the lamp, and a genie appears.   I am the most powerful genie in the world. I can grant you any wish, but only one wish.

The programmer pulls out a map, points to it and says, I want peace in the Middle East.

The genie responds,  Gee, I don’t know. Those people have been fighting for millennia. I can do just about anything, but this is likely beyond my limits.

The programmer then says,  Well, I am a programmer, and my programs have lots of users. Please make all my users satisfied with my software and let them ask for sensible changes.

At which point the genie responds,  Um, let me see that map again.

Humorous Quotes

The first 90% of the code accounts for the first 90% of the development time. The remaining 10% of the code accounts for the other 90% of the development time.  (Tom Cargill)

Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the universe trying to build bigger and better idiots. So far the universe is winning. (Rick Cook)

C++ : Where friends have access to your private members.    (Gavin Baker)

Ever spend a little time reading comp.lang.c++ ? That's really the best place to learn about the number of C++ users looking for a better language.    (William Beckwith)

If debugging is the process of removing software bugs, then programming must be the process of putting them in.  (Edsger Dijkstra)

C++ would make a decent teaching language if we could teach the ++ part without the C part.    (Michael Feldman)

Java is, in many ways, C++--    (Michael Feldman)

C++ has it's place in the history of programming languages.  Just as Caligula has his place in the history of the Roman Empire.    (Robert Firth)

C++ in Cantonese is pronounced "C ga ga". Need I say more?    (Mark Glewwe)

Writing in C or C++ is like running a chain saw with all the safety guards removed.    (Bob Gray)

When your hammer is C++, everything begins to look like a thumb.    (Steve Haflich)

There are two ways of constructing a software design. One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies. The other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies. The first method is far more difficult.  (C.A.R. Hoare)

Fifty years of programming language research, and we end up with C++ ???    (Richard O'Keefe)

Software and cathedrals are much the same. First we build them, then we pray. (Samuel Redwine)

The evolution of languages: FORTRAN is a non-typed language. C is a weakly typed language. Ada is a strongly typed language. C++ is a strongly hyped language.    (Ron Sercely)

In C++ it's harder to shoot yourself in the foot, but when you do, you blow off your whole leg.    (Bjarne Stroustrup)

I have always wished for my computer to be as easy to use as my telephone. My wish has come true because I can no longer figure out how to use my telephone.  (Bjarne Stroustrup)

C++ is a write-only, high-level assembler language.    (Stefan Van Baelen)

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John W. McCormick / Department of Computer Science / mccormick@cs.uni.edu