Aaron Aardvark

A book written in 1971 called The Psychology of Computer Programming recounts a tale from when the author, Gerald M. Weinberg, was working as a computer consultant. The client firm ran their payroll program, inputting a tall stack of IBM punch cards, one for each employee. It seems that no matter how they tried to fix it, the program mishandled the processing of the first card in the deck.

The solution? Add a card to the top of the alphabetical deck. The card was for a dummy employee, Aaron Aardvark. It worked beautifully. Every other employee in the deck was now processed correctly.

The message of this story — there isn't one, really. I enjoyed it as a tale of resourcefulness and ingenuity from an earlier computer era, a field rich in such stories.

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