[TUHS] Re.: Princeton's "Unix: An Oral History": who was in the team in "The Attic"?

Rob Pike robpike at gmail.com
Wed Oct 12 06:08:35 AEST 2022

I think it is (used to be?) a common pattern.

Tom Cargill took a year off from Bell Labs Research to work in development.
He joined a group where every subsystem's code was printed in a separate
binder and stored on a shelf in each office. Tom discovered that one of
those subsystems was almost completely redundant, as most its services were
implemented elsewhere. So he spent a few months making it completely
redundant. He deleted 15,000 lines of code. When he was done, he removed an
entire binder from everybody's shelf. His coworkers loved it.

During his performance review, he learned that management had a metric for
productivity: lines of code. Tom had negative productivity. In fact,
because he was so successful, his entire group had negative productivity.
He returned to Research with his tail between his legs.


On Wed, Oct 12, 2022 at 7:03 AM Michael Kjörling <e5655f30a07f at ewoof.net>

> On 11 Oct 2022 12:54 -0700, from lm at mcvoy.com (Larry McVoy):
> > On Tue, Oct 11, 2022 at 03:43:19PM -0400, Marc Donner wrote:
> >> So, come annual review time he gets the most negative possible score.
> >> Why?  Because he produced -480K lines of code.
> >
> > Whoever wrote that review should have been fired.  Absolutely no clue.
> Isn't it relatively well established, though, that IBM culture at
> least for a very long time put heavy emphasis on counting lines of
> source code, and that more SLOC was considered to be better?
> I definitely recall it being mentioned in _Triumph of the nerds_ as a
> major issue between IBM and Microsoft during development of OS/2.
> --
> Michael Kjörling
>  https://michael.kjorling.se
>   “Remember when, on the Internet, nobody cared that you were a dog?”
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