I was considering buying a new desktop computer, and I thought I had found the ideal model. That is, until I noticed that one little thing was missing—the ­activity light for the hard drive. The manufacturer probably saved a few cents by ­leaving it out, but that little light was of some psychological ­importance to me. How could I possibly buy a computer that was just going to sit there and not give me any indication that it was working?

A very long time ago, not long after the dinosaurs went extinct, I was ­working on modem design. At the Bell System, we had designed modems the way they were supposed to be—big, heavy clunkers with a telephone handset and an embedded rotary dial. They were just what the users needed to connect to their time-shared mainframes. But one day, a competitor came out with a small modem that had an array of LED lamps on the front panel, indicating control signals like clear-to-send as well as data activity. ”What user could possibly care about such things?” we joked among ourselves.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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