They Write the Right Stuff

Their quarters are a study in white-collar pedestrian. The most striking thing is how ordinary they look. Other than the occasional bit of memorabilia, you could be in the offices of any small company or government agency. Everyone has his or her own small office, and the offices have desks, PCs, and sparse personal artifacts. People wear moderately dressy clothes to work, neat but nothing flashy, certainly nothing grungy.

It’s strictly an 8-to-5 kind of place — there are late nights, but they’re the exception. The programmers are intense, but low-key…They’re adults, with spouses and kids and lives beyond their…software program.

Does this sound like your company? Would you want to work at a place like this?

This software never crashes. It never needs to be re-booted. This software is bug-free. It is perfect, as perfect as human beings have achieved. Consider these stats : the last three versions of the program — each 420,000 lines long-had just one error each. The last 11 versions of this software had a total of 17 errors. Commercial programs of equivalent complexity would have 5,000 errors.

These are the 260 men and women of the “on-board shuttle group” who develop the software that runs NASA’s space shuttles. You can read more about in They Write the Right Stuff. Continue reading