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In April 1975, Datamation published a number of humorous texts on software. I've unfortunately lost them—if anybody has a copy I can get my hands on, I'd be grateful. Here are some fragments of “A software ABC” that I have been able to remember.

From my memory, this was in 1975. There are two other hits on Google, and they disagree with me. This one and this one, both of which state March 1976. That's puzzling, because it was clearly an April Fool issue. On closer examination, one seems to be a copy of the other, so there's no particular reason to believe this version.

On the other hand, there are also differences in the text, and they're probably right. I've adapted the entry for N.

C is for COBOL—
What a pity
It was written
By a committee.

K is the a kludge that you say
You require to avoid some delay
But that interim fix
Forms a habit that sticks
And you'll find that it's in there to stay.

N is the Noon. Much more than dreary night
The noontime hour sees rise the rotting dead,
Who from their wooden cells go muttering forth.
Then will you hear them speak of ancient wrongs,
Of projects cancelled, systems vague and strange,
Of intricate enhancements ill designed,
And long-lost deadlines. Then also do they chart
Forgotten job-streams flowing in the night
To since-discarded listings. Men they curse
Who plucked procrustean schedules from the air
And then departed, called to high estate
In distant companies long since forgot.
Great deeds they now recall, and happier days,
And rusted hardware, powered once again
By memory and misted rosy dream.
Delay lines fill, and vacuum tubes warm up
And heroes (greater than those we know)
Who never from their standards did depart
Stand forth among them, calling them to war.
Then should the Living shudder and know fear
And tremble at the muttering of the Dead.
But hoary time, in envy lest these shades
Usurp the little space of those who breathe
Now moves the clock unto the hour of one
And sends them back to work 'til coffee break.

U was a user. He was rash
And parted quickly with his cash.
He bought with his investment huge
A powerful, expensive kludge.

Because his system was a joke
The user very soon went broke.
(Two lines that I forget)

We all lost money on the deal
And soon the pinch began to feel.
The sales department hired more men
And went and sold the kludge again.

Z is for zero, written so
That 0 cannot look like O
which stands for One. Alas for me
My programs map to binary.
No other reason need be sought
Why half my programs come to nought.


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