Someone posted a follow-up question to my earlier post on Quora (my last post here):
How do you see the process changing so programmers can be more productive?
It’s what I said in that last sentence of my earlier post: “I’m not sure what, but I bet it’s going to be a highly visual process that looks more like digital circuit design than programming.”
The first integrated circuits involved someone sitting down and drawing lines. They were literally etching multiple layers into a silicon substrate, similar to how photographic lithography is done. (It was, in fact, a photolithographic process.) That’s how they did it for a LONG time. It’s analogous to how we program today, by writing lines of code, line by line.
Someone on Quora posted this question:
You choose to be software engineer. Why? What incidents inspired you, what motivates you, what is it that still keeps you going?
When I was in high school, I was having lunch with a friend who invited me to the “math lab” to see what he was doing on a computer. I wasn’t sure what he was talking about, so I went mostly out of curiosity. This was 1972 and their “computer” was an ASR-33 Teletype connected to a time-shared system over the phone. My friend had written a program in BASIC that simulated a pin-ball machine. He figured I’d like to play the game. I was more interested in the code. I looked it over and asked a few questions about it. But mostly it made instant sense to me. “I thought everybody says computer programming is really complicated? This looks really simple.” He shrugged.
This was the fall semester of my sophomore year. I was in Advanced Geometry as my math class, and I was bored to death. The programming classes had always been restricted to Seniors in the AP program. As luck would have it, the Seniors that year weren’t interested. Nor were the Juniors. So the opened it up to us Sophomores in the advanced math (not AP) class and almost all of us gleefully said, “YES!” Go figure. I think most of us went on to become software engineers.