EWD 952

“Science fiction and science reality in computing”,¬†E. W.¬†Dijkstra, 1986

“Recently, British Rail has installed its first computerized signalling system along one of its tracks and they advertised the system in the hope of selling it to other railroad companies by revealing that, in order to avoid the risk of using a compiler, the system had for safety’s sake been written in machine code.”

“… this is the paradox faced by all directors of industrial research laboratories: after having attracted the right people, they cannot serve their company better than by leaving those people alone.”

“…hiring a technical writer is rarely a solution; the act is usually not much more than an admission that the system’s designers are in some sense functionally illiterate.”