A program would consist of, say, a few thousand instructions of half a dozen characters each, and thus would be a text of ten thousand characters, in which not a single typing error was permitted. The competent programmers unavoidably learned the clerical skills needed for the flawless manipulation of such long character strings: they became routine , like the surgeon’s precautions in the operating room. The misunderstanding this created in the minds of others was that programming was merely a matter of accuracy, and that therefore it should be done by clerically trained personnel, and, if more persons were involved, under proper management. In short, programming was viewed as a perhaps painful but simple, low-level task. Needless to say, this confusion between the score and the composition led to an underestimation of the intellectual challenges programming presents.

EWD #1298