Throwback Thursday: Why comments were invented

Request comes to pilot fish to provide employee data for the company-wide address book. That's no big deal.

"Time to code: 60 minutes," fish reports. "Affected employees: 8,000."

Flash forward two years: Senior executives get new cell phones that should be able to import the company-wide address book. Problem: The phone numbers are formatted for human beings to use, not cell phones.

New request: Change address book format so cell phones can dial the phone numbers automatically.

"Time to code: 10 minutes to comment out old code and add new code," says fish. "Affected employees: 8,000. Employees who actually need this data: 10."

Now it's another eight months later: Senior execs decide they're bored with having the entire company directory on their cell phones.

Yet another request: Change format of phone numbers so they're easier for humans to use.

"Actual time to code: one minute to comment out new code and uncomment old code," fish says. "Reported time to code: one hour.

"Flash forward six months. Senior executives get new cell phone toys that can use the company-wide address book. But the telephone numbers are formatted for humans to use, not new cell phone toys..."

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