Why does it take so long?

August 2, 2022
Computers have advanced a lot since the 1960s. Yet, for many it still takes ages to get feedback. WHY?

Back in the 1960s, computer programmers would write code with a pencil.

Then they’d sit down at a keypunch machine to enter their code onto punch cards.

Then they’d walk their card deck over to the computing center, and add their program to the (physical) queue for the time-sharing computer.

If everything went well, perhaps the next morning they’d have a print-out of their program’s run. Or a core dump. Or some other error message.

Then they’d sit down with a pencil and debug their program, making changes, then start the cycle over again.

For many, this meant a 24-hour cycle from coding to feedback.

Now it’s 2022. We’ve come a long way! Most of us have at least 4 multi-GHz CPU cores at our fingertips. We no longer need to enter our code, then sneaker-net it across campus to the CPU.

Yet many developers, in many companies, still wait days, or even weeks, to get feedback on whether or not their code works.

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