2020-12-15

Walter BrightによるEric Engstromの思い出話

DirectXの作者の一人であるEric Engstromが死去した。これにことよせてD言語のWalter Brightが思い出話を書いている。

I've known Eric since around 1985 or so when he came to work at Data I/O. Our fr... | Hacker News

Ericは1985年から知り合いだった。Data I/Oで働いていた頃だ。次第に疎遠になっていったが、あいつは常に特別なやつだった。

今となっては私しか覚えていないであろう思い出話をひとつしてやろう。いつ思い出しても笑えるし、まさにあいつらしい話だ。

あいつが1991年か92年あたりにMicrosoftで働いていた頃、問題を抱えているマネージャーがいた。アセンブリ言語で書かれたプログラムがあった。5万行ほどのサイズだ。プログラムには修正すべき不具合があった。作者はすでにMicrosoftを退職していた。マネージャーはすでに何人ものプログラマーをアサインして問題の修正を試みていたが、誰もが匙を投げる難易度であった。

問題は、作者はアセンブラーに付属のマクロ言語を使って独自のへんてこでドキュメントのない難解な言語を作り出していたのだ。理解できるプログラマーはいなかった。もはや一から作り直すしかないが、何ヶ月もかかるだろうし、費用も莫大だ。

Ericは言った。「俺ならできるぜ」と

2時間後、Ericは問題を修正してコードを提出した。

驚いたマネージャーはたずねた。「どうやってこの言語を理解できたんだ?」

Eric「理解してない。Walterの逆アセンブラーを使ってバイナリを逆アセしただけだ。問題は明白になったので、修正して提出したまでだ」

Ericと私はひどく笑いあったものだ。Eric以外には誰もそんな解決方法を思いつかなかった。あいつは、’壁を破壊できないときは迂回するやつだった。常にそういうやつだった。

いなくなって寂しいよ。

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こういう「職人気質のプログラマ」に関する逸話って、最近あんまし目にしなくなった気がします。いまでも、こういう人はいるんだろうけど、間口が広くなるにしたがって空気がちょっと変わってきているような気がしています。私は、個人的に、こういう話は好きなんですが…。

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