One of my favorite things to tell people about computer programming, and how profoundly uninteresting it really is, is to point out that there really aren’t any rock star computer programmers. Sure, you’ve got a couple of relatively big-name folks (Stroustrup, Torvalds, Zawinski), but I’d put money on the fact that your average non-CS college student these days has probably never heard of any of them, nor could they name a single famous computer programmer.
But I realized this weekend that, as always, edge cases conspire to make my life difficult. There are rock star computer programmers.
It turns out that Kelley Deal, of The Breeders fame, is actually a computer programmer. Or, at least, was one before she started her musical career. And sure, most of you young-uns that read this may never have heard of The Breeders, but I know at least a few of you have. Or maybe you’ve heard Cannonball or Divine Hammer but didn’t know who did them.
And, if you want to stretch it a little bit, you could call Brian Transeau (BT) a computer programmer. For his last album, This Binary Universe, he wrote much of it in CSound, a language used to program music as if it were code. He’s also written software for Mac-based DJ tools, like BreakTweaker and StutterEdit. It may not be apps or systems programming, but I think it still counts.
So there you go. I don’t know that I’m going to ever stop saying that there aren’t any rock star programmers, but there really are.