Interview With the Creator of C++
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  1. #1
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    Talking Interview With the Creator of C++

    I got an interesting email the other day. Here it is

    Subject: FW: An amazing interview with Stroustrup

    On the 1st of January, 1998, Bjarne Stroustrup gave an interview
    to the IEEE's 'Computer' magazine.

    Naturally, the editors thought he would be giving a retrospective
    view of seven years of object-oriented design, using the language
    he created.

    By the end of the interview, the interviewer got more than he had
    bargained for and, subsequently, the editor decided to suppress its
    contents, 'for the good of the industry' but, as with many of these
    things, there was a leak.

    Here is a complete transcript of what was was said, unedited, and
    unrehearsed, so it isn't as neat as planned interviews.

    You will find it interesting...

    __________________________________________________________________

    Interviewer: Well, it's been a few years since you changed the
    world of software design, how does it feel, looking back?

    Stroustrup: Actually, I was thinking about those days, just before
    you arrived. Do you remember? Everyone was writing 'C'
    and, the trouble was, they were pretty damn good at it.
    Universities got pretty good at teaching it, too. They were
    turning out competent - I stress the word 'competent' -
    graduates at a phenomenal rate. That's what caused the
    problem.

    Interviewer: Problem?

    Stroustrup: Yes, problem. Remember when everyone wrote Cobol?

    Interviewer: Of course, I did too

    Stroustrup: Well, in the beginning, these guys were like demi-gods.
    Their salaries were high, and they were treated like royalty.

    Interviewer: Those were the days, eh?

    Stroustrup: Right. So what happened? IBM got sick of it, and
    invested millions in training programmers, till they were a
    dime a dozen.

    Interviewer: That's why I got out. Salaries dropped within a year,
    to the point where being a journalist actually paid better.

    Stroustrup: Exactly. Well, the same happened with 'C' programmers.

    Interviewer: I see, but what's the point?

    Stroustrup: Well, one day, when I was sitting in my office, I
    thought of this little scheme, which would redress the
    balance a little. I thought 'I wonder what would happen, if
    there were a language so complicated, so difficult to learn,
    that nobody would ever be able to swamp the market with
    programmers? Actually, I got some of the ideas from X10,
    you know, X windows. That was such a bitch of a graphics
    system, that it only just ran on those Sun 3/60 things.
    They had all the ingredients for what I wanted. A really
    ridiculously complex syntax, obscure functions, and
    pseudo-OO structure. Even now, nobody writes raw X-windows
    code. Motif is the only way to go if you want to retain
    your sanity.

    Interviewer: You're kidding...?

    Stroustrup: Not a bit of it. In fact, there was another problem.
    Unix was written in 'C', which meant that any 'C' programmer
    could very easily become a systems programmer. Remember
    what a mainframe systems programmer used to earn?

    Interviewer: You bet I do, that's what I used to do.

    Stroustrup: OK, so this new language had to divorce itself from
    Unix, by hiding all the system calls that bound the two
    together so nicely. This would enable guys who only knew
    about DOS to earn a decent living too.

    Interviewer: I don't believe you said that...

    Stroustrup: Well, it's been long enough, now, and I believe most
    people have figured out for themselves that C++ is a waste
    of time but, I must say, it's taken them a lot longer than I
    thought it would.

    Interviewer: So how exactly did you do it?

    Stroustrup: It was only supposed to be a joke, I never thought
    people would take the book seriously. Anyone with half a
    brain can see that object-oriented programming is
    counter-intuitive, illogical and inefficient.

    Interviewer: What?

    Stroustrup: And as for 're-useable code' - when did you ever hear
    of a company re-using its code?

    Interviewer: Well, never, actually, but...

    Stroustrup: There you are then. Mind you, a few tried, in the
    early days. There was this Oregon company - Mentor
    Graphics, I think they were called - really caught a cold
    trying to rewrite everything in C++ in about '90 or '91. I
    felt sorry for them really, but I thought people would learn
    from their mistakes.

    Interviewer: Obviously, they didn't?

    Stroustrup: Not in the slightest. Trouble is, most companies
    hush-up all their major blunders, and explaining a $30
    million loss to the shareholders would have been difficult.
    Give them their due, though, they made it work in the end.

    Interviewer: They did? Well, there you are then, it proves O-O works.

    Stroustrup: Well, almost. The executable was so huge, it took
    five minutes to load, on an HP workstation, with 128MB of
    RAM. Then it ran like treacle. Actually, I thought this
    would be a major stumbling-block, and I'd get found out
    within a week, but nobody cared. Sun and HP were only too
    glad to sell enormously powerful boxes, with huge resources
    just to run trivial programs. You know, when we had our
    first C++ compiler, at AT&T, I compiled 'Hello World', and
    couldn't believe the size of the executable. 2.1MB

    Interviewer: What? Well, compilers have come a long way, since then.

    Stroustrup: They have? Try it on the latest version of g++ - you
    won't get much change out of half a megabyte. Also, there
    are several quite recent examples for you, from all over the
    world. British Telecom had a major disaster on their hands
    but, luckily, managed to scrap the whole thing and start
    again. They were luckier than Australian Telecom. Now I
    hear that Siemens is building a dinosaur, and getting more
    and more worried as the size of the hardware gets bigger, to
    accommodate the executables. Isn't multiple inheritance a joy?

    Interviewer: Yes, but C++ is basically a sound language.

    Stroustrup: You really believe that, don't you? Have you ever sat
    down and worked on a C++ project? Here's what happens:
    First, I've put in enough pitfalls to make sure that only
    the most trivial projects will work first time. Take
    operator overloading. At the end of the project, almost
    every module has it, usually, because guys feel they really
    should do it, as it was in their training course. The same
    operator then means something totally different in every
    module. Try pulling that lot together, when you have a
    hundred or so modules. And as for data hiding. God, I
    sometimes can't help laughing when I hear about the problems
    companies have making their modules talk to each other. I
    think the word 'synergistic' was specially invented to twist
    the knife in a project manager's ribs.

    Interviewer: I have to say, I'm beginning to be quite appalled at
    all this. You say you did it to raise programmers'
    salaries? That's obscene.

    Stroustrup: Not really. Everyone has a choice. I didn't expect
    the thing to get so much out of hand. Anyway, I basically
    succeeded. C++ is dying off now, but programmers still get
    high salaries - especially those poor devils who have to
    maintain all this crap. You do realise, it's impossible to
    maintain a large C++ software module if you didn't actually
    write it?

    Interviewer: How come?

    Stroustrup: You are out of touch, aren't you? Remember the typedef?

    Interviewer: Yes, of course.

    Stroustrup: Remember how long it took to grope through the header
    files only to find that 'RoofRaised' was a double precision
    number? Well, imagine how long it takes to find all the
    implicit typedefs in all the Classes in a major project.

    Interviewer: So how do you reckon you've succeeded?

    Stroustrup: Remember the length of the average-sized 'C' project?
    About 6 months. Not nearly long enough for a guy with a
    wife and kids to earn enough to have a decent standard of
    living. Take the same project, design it in C++ and what do
    you get? I'll tell you. One to two years. Isn't that
    great? All that job security, just through one mistake of
    judgement. And another thing. The universities haven't
    been teaching 'C' for such a long time, there's now a
    shortage of decent 'C' programmers. Especially those who
    know anything about Unix systems programming. How many guys
    would know what to do with 'malloc', when they've used 'new'
    all these years - and never bothered to check the return
    code. In fact, most C++ programmers throw away their return
    codes. Whatever happened to good ol' '-1'? At least you
    knew you had an error, without bogging the thing down in all
    that 'throw' 'catch' 'try' stuff.

    Interviewer: But, surely, inheritance does save a lot of time?

    Stroustrup: Does it? Have you ever noticed the difference between
    a 'C' project plan, and a C++ project plan? The planning
    stage for a C++ project is three times as long. Precisely
    to make sure that everything which should be inherited is,
    and what shouldn't isn't. Then, they still get it wrong.
    Whoever heard of memory leaks in a 'C' program? Now finding
    them is a major industry. Most companies give up, and send
    the product out, knowing it leaks like a sieve, simply to
    avoid the expense of tracking them all down.

    Interviewer: There are tools...

    Stroustrup: Most of which were written in C++.

    Interviewer: If we publish this, you'll probably get lynched, you
    do realise that?

    Stroustrup: I doubt it. As I said, C++ is way past its peak now,
    and no company in its right mind would start a C++ project
    without a pilot trial. That should convince them that it's
    the road to disaster. If not, they deserve all they get. You
    know, I tried to convince Dennis Ritchie to rewrite Unix in
    >C++.

    Interviewer: Oh my God. What did he say?

    Stroustrup: Well, luckily, he has a good sense of humor. I think
    both he and Brian figured out what I was doing, in the early
    days, but never let on. He said he'd help me write a C++
    version of DOS, if I was interested.

    Interviewer: Were you?

    Stroustrup: Actually, I did write DOS in C++, I'll give you a demo
    when we're through. I have it running on a Sparc 20 in the
    computer room. Goes like a rocket on 4 CPU's, and only
    takes up 70 megs of disk.

    Interviewer: What's it like on a PC?

    Stroustrup: Now you're kidding. Haven't you ever seen Windows '95?
    I think of that as my biggest success. Nearly blew the game
    before I was ready, though.

    Interviewer: You know, that idea of a Unix++ has really got me
    thinking. Somewhere out there, there's a guy going to try it.

    Stroustrup: Not after they read this interview.

    Interviewer: I'm sorry, but I don't see us being able to publish
    any of this.

    Stroustrup: But it's the story of the century. I only want to be
    remembered by my fellow programmers, for what I've done for
    them. You know how much a C++ guy can get these days?

    Interviewer: Last I heard, a really top guy is worth $70 - $80 an
    hour.

    Stroustrup: See? And I bet he earns it. Keeping track of all the
    gotchas I put into C++ is no easy job. And, as I said
    before, every C++ programmer feels bound by some mystic
    promise to use every damn element of the language on every
    project. Actually, that really annoys me sometimes, even
    though it serves my original purpose. I almost like the
    language after all this time.

    Interviewer: You mean you didn't before?

    Stroustrup: Hated it. It even looks clumsy, don't you agree? But
    when the book royalties started to come in... well, you get
    the picture.

    Interviewer: Just a minute. What about references? You must
    admit, you improved on 'C' pointers.

    Stroustrup: Hmm. I've always wondered about that. Originally, I
    thought I had. Then, one day I was discussing this with a
    guy who'd written C++ from the beginning. He said he could
    never remember whether his variables were referenced or
    dereferenced, so he always used pointers. He said the
    little asterisk always reminded him.

    Interviewer: Well, at this point, I usually say 'thank you very
    much' but it hardly seems adequate.

    Stroustrup: Promise me you'll publish this. My conscience is
    getting the better of me these days.

    Interviewer: I'll let you know, but I think I know what my editor
    will say.

    Stroustrup: Who'd believe it anyway? Although, can you send me a
    copy of that tape?

    Interviewer: I can do that.
    OpenBSD - The proactively secure operating system.

  2. #2
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    Wholy ****!! Though I like writing program in C++, I can't believe what he said in his interview.
    Scott Meyer's book says he invented C++ for the alternative of C with careful and thorough design.
    Can I get out of this prison?
    Can I stay this prison forever?

  3. #3
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    ##prinsoner##: I don't know who the source for this is so I wouldn't take it too seriously .
    OpenBSD - The proactively secure operating system.

  4. #4
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    I dont believe it one bit.

  5. #5
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    It's a JOKE!
    OpenBSD - The proactively secure operating system.

  6. #6
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    a pretty disturbing read for any oo programer
    U suk at teh intuhnet1!!1!1one

  7. #7
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    Originally posted here by Jabberwocky
    a pretty disturbing read for any oo programer
    No, because it's not real.
    ---
    proactive

  8. #8
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    OK. It's a JOKE.
    But I'm kinna curious that how accurate some information this pseudo Stroustrup mentioned in this interview.
    Like it takes more time designing in C++ than C, or stuff like that. Do you think all of 'em are bullshit??

    I hope so...
    Can I get out of this prison?
    Can I stay this prison forever?

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