Mel’s Loop – A Comprenesive Companion to the Story of Mel

Many years ago (not 39 years ago, though possibly 19) I remember reading The Story of Mel, a Real Programmer. Already, a lot had to be explained to a programmer of the day. But now there’s Mel’s Loop, an annotated version with a page of resources for additional background. According to the author,

Today we celebrate the 39th anniversary of the first publication of The Story of Mel by Ed Nather. The Story of Mel was written as a memoir about the era of early computing of the late 1950s, creating a fresh memory of the days when Hackership was first forged. It continued to live through the years as an epic hacker folklore.

Little is known about the origins of The Story of Mel, its characters, and technical aspects. Over the past few years, I’ve spent a lot of time researching the story. As I interviewed people who were related to it, I discovered some interesting details about the life and origins of Mel, Ed, and their stories, as well as the company where it all happened, and developed a deep perspective of Mel’s famous hack.

To celebrate this research, we launch today a new project: Mel’s Loop, which includes an annotated version of the story, along with articles and other materials that are soon to be added to this web companion – related to The Story of Mel, and to the Hacker Folklore genre in general.

And here’s the opening of The Story of Mel itself:

A recent article devoted to the macho side of programming made the bold and unvarnished statement:

Real Programmers write in FORTRAN.

Maybe they do now, in this decadent era of Lite beer, hand calculators, and “user-friendly” software…

Check out Mel’s Loop!


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