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Dynamic Duos

It took P. J. Plauger, though, to really teach me about the benefits of visibility. Shortly after he started Whitesmiths, Ltd., I visited him at their New York “headquarters,” a small apartment in Manhattan. Somewhere off in one of the rooms there lurked a minicomputer, stuffed in a closet in order to keep the clatter down was a printer, and around what should have been the living room were scattered several terminals. At each terminal were two programmers!

Of course, only one programmer was actually cutting code at each keyboard, but the others were peering over their shoulders, doing those annoying things that New Yorkers are especially schooled in, namely kibitzing. The room buzzed with a steady stream of questions about the algorithm or whether an initial value was correct, suggestions about how to break out of a loop, or drawing attention to a syntax error or a test done in the wrong order or a missing case. After awhile the two programmers would switch places, and the one at the keyboard would become the professional nudge.


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