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Mel the Programmer

Tom Jennings, 30 November 2003

If you read at all about older computers, you likely have stumbled upon the story of Mel the Programmer, posted by its author,Ed Nather, to USENET on 1983-05-21 [info from the above article]. I always assumed that story was apocryphal, but fool that I am, it appears that Mel is a real person.

Well Bob Lilley points out that Mel Kaye really was an LGP-30 programmer, and worked for the Royal McBee Corporation. As Bob points out, and I can attest to, Mel's name and initials are on many of the coding sheets in the Subroutine Manual LGP-30/LGP-21 Software section. For instance, Mel wrote the 10.0 boot-loader code. The programmers manual for the LGP-21 has a siple example programming that uses the very technique pointed out in the Mel-the-programmer story: a STOP instruction used as a programmatic constant in the same program, done without pausing to comment.

It seems rather unlikely there is another master programmer named Mel at the Royal McBee Corp., as Bill von Hagen pointed out back in 11 June 1994, in a post to alt.folklore.computers.