The Love Song of J. Random Hacker
Jeff Duntemann'
-Originally published in PC Techniques

Let us go then, you and I,
For fast Chinese and talk of years gone by,
Fillled with random jumps and custom cable;
Let us go, recalling joys of FORTH and MUMPS,
The cluttering lumps
of threaded code in frantic, ten-hour hacks
To get that midterm project off our backs;
with code that twisted, doubled-back and bent
And set into cement
But came through with an underwhelming "B"...
Oh, do not ask, "What was it?"
I don't care what it does, just how it does it.

On BIX the expert systems come and go,
Bragging about how much they know.

Over yellow chad that chattered out from teletype machines,
Over yellow tape that rattled out encoding fever dreams
That curled into the data center trash,
We lingered, inventing novel sort/merge schemes
Or ways to thwart collisions when we hash--
At last we looked up, to the tube's insistent feep,
And, seeing we'd been logged in since late last week,
Took one last slug of Jolt and fell asleep.

On BIX the expert systems come and go,
Bragging about how much they know.

No! I am not Bill Gates, nor would I want to be;
I rather parse the fish than own the knife;
(Imagine! Having moby bux but chained
To forty million lusers, what a life...)
Am a flamer, goateed, pallid, overweight,
Willing to pull two shifts, then (hell) a third,
To save a session from a deadlocked state;
At times, (to put it midly) unrestrained--
Almost, at times, a nerd.

I grow old...I grow old...
dBase II and Wordstar are no longer sold.

Shall I start a BBS? Do I dare to try and teach?
I shall take my palmheld portable and hack upon the beach.

I have heard the networks passing packets, each to each.

They have no traffic for the likes of me.

I have seen the Altair live and die
And software startups score on sorry score--
And millions made by men like Mitch Kapor.

We hackers linger by our leading edge
Forgetting what is pending in the cache
Till practice hurtles past us, and we crash.