Know any Fortran programmers who need a more interesting job?

Toby Thain toby at
Fri Oct 30 13:34:03 CDT 2015

On 2015-10-30 2:16 PM, Noel Chiappa wrote:
>      > From: Fred Cisin
>      > 2 or 3 decades ago, the folk controlling lower division undergraduate
>      > "Computer Science" at UC .. declared, "Assembly language is dead!
>      > Nobody will ever program in it again.", and shifted their program to
>      > Scheme/Lisp.
>      > ..
>      > assembly language may no longer be a great career path, but there will
>      > always be need for some levels of hand optimization.
> It's worth teaching a bit of machine/assembler language, so that students
> understand how computers _actually work_, underneath.
> There's a semi-famous incident from a couple of decades back at MIT: they
> were teaching a programming course in CLU (an "object-based" language which
> contributed many ideas to object-oriented programming). So one assignment was
> to write an assembler - which required being able to print octal numbers.
> So quite a few of the students wrote 'octal clusters' ('cluster' is CLU
> jargon for the collection of routines which know-how/are-allowed to operate
> on members of a class), which used normal decimal read and write to do
> input/output - and had 'octal add' etc routines which took apart two 'octal
> numbers' abcdef, stored as the decimal number abcdef, into their constituent
> digits, added them together individually, did the carries, and then put it
> all back together. (I am not making this up. This really happened.)
> Apparently nobody had ever told them that a number in memory is... just a
> number. At which point it became clear that they needed to know a little
> more about how a computer actually worked.

Pretty sure this same thing is repeated somewhere with every generation 
of programmers :-)

But I'm not sure why anyone is shocked at "60 year old languages" being 
required. People are constantly telling us to use a FORTY year old 
language for crypto and systems work as if nothing had been learned since.


> 	Noel

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