Discussion on: Describe the worst coding culture you've been a part of

tuck1s profile image

Half a million lines of 68k assembler code running on bare metal. Yes, half a million. Nearly 1 yard thick when printed out 80 lines to a page.

Proprietary OS, kernel, filing system, SCSI on bare metal (NCR chips), ethernet drivers (anyone remember AMD LANCE?) and some custom hardware. Project lifetime 10yrs+ (1987 to ~2001). Originally written by two company founders, code by maturity had grown approx 10x and team of 5.

Hard real-time execution requirements with some parts timed using magical NOPs, supporting six generations of hardware (from 10MHz 68k up to 75MHz '060). Macros. Nested Macros. Lots of them.

Version control: Polytron PVCS. One. Person. At. A. Time. In. Each. File. Locked. At one point we had to make small changes to almost every source file (approx 250 of them). The only way to do it was for all five of us to eat pizza and stay there til 1am, so the project could continue the next day. One of the better engineers quit after that.

Development system: '386, later '486 and 1st gen Pentium PCs running DOS, Microtec command-line assembler / linker. EPROM programmer, so dev/test cycle was once per hour, tops. Screens were CRT, mostly 1024x768 resolution. At most 50 lines x 80 chars.

Requirement (which we met!) of 99.99% uptime in Production.

Code upgrades were delivered by flying someone out with a set of EPROMs. If there was a critical bug, that meant another flight.

Total earnings from that project would be in excess of $100M in today's money.