“Absolutely amazing! A page turner, just like Harry Potter for the technically minded.” —Tobias Svensson from review at return 42;
“This book is so interesting I did 60 minutes on the treadmill yesterday instead of the usual 30 because I couldn’t stop reading.” —Joel Spolsky on Joel on Software
“Coders at Work should inspire readers to learn about the wider context of their craft and stop the reinvention of the proverbial wheel” —Vladimir Sedach from review at Slashdot
“Peter Seibel asks the sort of questions only a fellow programmer would ask. Reading this book may be the next best thing to chatting with these illustrious programmers in person.” —Ehud Lamm, Founder of Lambda the Ultimate - the programming languages weblog
“I highly recommend it.” —Andy Mulholland, CTO, Capgemini
“I have long known the names and of the work of about half of the programmers in Peter Seibel’s wonderful book, Coders at Work; and it is fascinating to read their ideas about their lives and their ideas about programming. Better yet, I have now learned about the lives and philosophies of the other half of the programmers in the book, whose systems were known to me but the programmers themselves were not. Anyone interested in computer programming and what makes a great computer programmer will enjoy this book.” —Dave Walden, original member of the BBN ARPANET team
“These are wonderful interviews and this looks to be a bible for any programmer who aspires to be better.” —Peter Christensen, Founder of GeekStack.com
“This book is dead sexy. When it comes out, you should definitely get a copy.” —Joseph F. Miklojcik III from review at jfm3> _
“Superb book!” —Prakash Swaminathan from review at CloudKnow
“Read it, because then you will know the greatest coding brains.” —Amit Shaw from review at Teleported Bits
“One of the other core questions Peter asks is, what books would you recommend to help a developer learn programming? For me, this book joins my short list—it takes you away from the limitations of learning within a single company or community, and shows you the breadth of experiences that can make someone a great developer.” —Marc Hedlund from review at O’Reilly Radar
“The range of topics covered is just astounding.” —Chris Hartjes from review at @TheKeyboard
Ken Thompson is the original bearded Unix hacker. He has spent a career working on whatever he finds interesting, which has, at various times, included analog computing, systems programming, regular expressions, and computer chess.
Hired as a researcher at Bell Labs to work on the MULTICS project, after Bell Labs pulled out of MULTICS, Thompson went on, with Dennis Ritchie, to invent Unix, an endeavor for which he fully expected to be fired. He also invented the B programming language, the precursor to Dennis Ritchie’s C.
Later he got interested in computer chess, building Belle, the first special-purpose chess computer and the strongest computerized chess player of its time. He also helped expand chess endgame tablebases to cover all four- and five-piece endgames.
When working on Bell Labs’ Plan 9 operating system, he devised the now ubiquitous UTF-8 Unicode encoding.
In 1983, Thompson and Ritchie received the Turing Award for their “development of generic operating systems theory and specifically for the implementation of the Unix operating system.” He was also awarded the National Medal of Technology and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Tsutomu Kanai Award, both for his work on Unix.
In this interview he talked about his early love of electronics, a rather unorthodox academic career that had him teaching courses while he was still a student, and why modern programming scares him.