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“I Had a Boss Who Interrupted Me Constantly to Say, ‘Gee, You Have Pretty Hair’ ”

“People imagine that programming is logical, a process like fixing a clock,” Ellen Ullman writes in her essay “Outside of Time: Reflections on the Programming Life.” “Nothing could be further from the truth.” Instead, writing code is “an illness, a fever, and obsession. It’s like riding a train and never being able to get off.” Ullman worked as a computer programmer and software engineer for 20 years, beginning in the late 1970s, when the profession drew from an eclectic population of PC hobbyists, to the early 2000s, when she became a full-time writer.
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