On the 1st of January, 1998, Bjarne Stroustrup gave an interview to the IEEE's 'Computer' magazine.

Naturally, the editors thought he would be giving a retrospective view of seven years of object-oriented design, using the language he created.

By the end of the interview, the interviewer got more than he had bargained for and, subsequently, the editor decided to suppress its contents, 'for the good of the industry' but, as with many of these things, there was a leak.

Here is a complete transcript of what was was said, unedited, and unrehearsed, so it isn't as neat as planned interviews.

Interviewer:  Well, it's been a few years since you changed the
              world of software design, how does it feel, looking back?

Stroustrup:   Actually, I was thinking about those days, just before
              you arrived. Do you remember?  Everyone was writing
              'C' and, the trouble was, they were pretty damn good at
              it. Universities got pretty good at teaching it, too.
              They were turning out competent - I stress the word
              'competent' - graduates at a phenomenal rate. That's
              what caused the problem.

Interviewer:  Problem?

Stroustrup:   Yes, problem. Remember when everyone wrote Cobol?

Interviewer:  Of course, I did too

Stroustrup:   Well, in the beginning, these guys were like demi-gods.
              Their salaries were high, and they were treated like

Interviewer:  Those were the days, eh?

Stroustrup:   Right. So what happened?  IBM got sick of it, and
              invested millions in training programmers, till they were a
              dime a dozen.

Interviewer:  That's why I got out. Salaries dropped within a year,
              to the point where being a journalist actually paid better.

Stroustrup:   Exactly. Well, the same happened with 'C' programmers.

Interviewer:  I see, but what's the point?

Stroustrup:   Well, one day, when I was sitting in my office, I
              thought of this little scheme, which would redress the
              balance a little. I thought 'I wonder what would
              happen, if there were a language so complicated, so
              difficult to learn, that nobody would ever be able to
              swamp the market with programmers?  Actually, I got some
              of the ideas from X10, you know, X windows. That was
              such a bitch of a graphics
              system, that it only just ran on those Sun 3/60
              things. They had all the ingredients for what I wanted.
              A really ridiculously complex syntax, obscure functions,
              and pseudo-OO structure. Even now, nobody writes raw
              X-windows code. Motif is the only way to go if you want
              to retain your sanity.

Interviewer:  You're kidding...?

Stroustrup:   Not a bit of it. In fact, there was another problem.
              Unix was written in 'C', which meant that any 'C'
              programmer could very easily become a systems
              programmer. Remember what a mainframe systems programmer 
              used to earn?

Interviewer:  You bet I do, that's what I used to do.

Stroustrup:   OK, so this new language had to divorce itself from
              Unix, by hiding all the system calls that bound the two
              together so nicely. This would enable guys who only knew
              about DOS to earn a decent living too.

Interviewer:  I don't believe you said that...

Stroustrup:   Well, it's been long enough, now, and I believe most
              people have figured out for themselves that C++ is a
              waste of time but, I must say, it's taken them a lot
              longer than I thought it would.

Interviewer:  So how exactly did you do it?

Stroustrup:   It was only supposed to be a joke, I never thought
              people would take the book seriously. Anyone with half a
              brain can see that object-oriented programming is
              counter-intuitive, illogical and inefficient.

Interviewer:  What?

Stroustrup:   And as for 're-useable code' - when did you ever hear
              of a company re-using its code?

Interviewer:  Well, never, actually, but...

Stroustrup:   There you are then. Mind you, a few tried, in the
              early days. There was this Oregon company - Mentor
              Graphics, I think they were called - really caught a cold
              trying to rewrite everything in C++ in about '90 or '91. I
              felt sorry for them really, but I thought people would learn
              from their mistakes.

Interviewer:  Obviously, they didn't?

Stroustrup:   Not in the slightest. Trouble is, most companies
              hush-up all their major blunders, and explaining a $30
              million loss to the shareholders would have been difficult.
              Give them their due, though, they made it work in the end.

Interviewer:  They did?  Well, there you are then, it proves O-O works.

Stroustrup:   Well, almost. The executable was so huge, it took
              five minutes to load, on an HP workstation, with 128MB of
              RAM. Then it ran like treacle. Actually, I thought this
              would be a major stumbling-block, and I'd get found out
              within a week, but nobody cared. Sun and HP were only too
              glad to sell enormously powerful boxes, with huge resources
              just to run trivial programs. You know, when we had our
              first C++ compiler, at AT&T, I compiled 'Hello World', and
              couldn't believe the size of the executable. 2.1MB

Interviewer:  What?  Well, compilers have come a long way, since then.

Stroustrup:   They have?  Try it on the latest version of g++ - you
              won't get much change out of half a megabyte. Also, there
              are several quite recent examples for you, from all over the
              world. British Telecom had a major disaster on their hands
              but, luckily, managed to scrap the whole thing and start
              again. They were luckier than Australian Telecom. Now I
              hear that Siemens is building a dinosaur, and getting more
              and more worried as the size of the hardware gets bigger, to
              accommodate the executables. Isn't multiple inheritance a joy?

Interviewer:  Yes, but C++ is basically a sound language.

Stroustrup:   You really believe that, don't you?  Have you ever sat
              down and worked on a C++ project?  Here's what happens:
              First, I've put in enough pitfalls to make sure that only
              the most trivial projects will work first time. Take
              operator overloading. At the end of the project, almost
              every module has it, usually, because guys feel they really
              should do it, as it was in their training course. The same
              operator then means something totally different in every
              module. Try pulling that lot together, when you have a
              hundred or so modules. And as for data hiding. God, I
              sometimes can't help laughing when I hear about the problems
              companies have making their modules talk to each other. I
              think the word 'synergistic' was specially invented to twist
              the knife in a project manager's ribs.

Interviewer:  I have to say, I'm beginning to be quite appalled at
              all this. You say you did it to raise programmers'
              salaries?  That's obscene.

Stroustrup:   Not really. Everyone has a choice. I didn't expect
              the thing to get so much out of hand. Anyway, I basically
              succeeded. C++ is dying off now, but programmers still get
              high salaries - especially those poor devils who have to
              maintain all this crap. You do realise, it's impossible to
              maintain a large C++ software module if you didn't actually
              write it?

Interviewer:  How come?

Stroustrup:   You are out of touch, aren't you?  Remember the typedef?

Interviewer:  Yes, of course.

Stroustrup:   Remember how long it took to grope through the header
              files only to find that 'RoofRaised' was a double precision
              number?  Well, imagine how long it takes to find all the
              implicit typedefs in all the Classes in a major project.

Interviewer:  So how do you reckon you've succeeded?

Stroustrup:   Remember the length of the average-sized 'C' project?
              About 6 months. Not nearly long enough for a guy with a
              wife and kids to earn enough to have a decent standard of
              living. Take the same project, design it in C++ and what do
              you get?  I'll tell you. One to two years. Isn't that
              great?  All that job security, just through one mistake of
              judgement. And another thing. The universities haven't
              been teaching 'C' for such a long time, there's now a
              shortage of decent 'C' programmers. Especially those who
              know anything about Unix systems programming. How many guys
              would know what to do with 'malloc', when they've used 'new'
              all these years - and never bothered to check the return
              code. In fact, most C++ programmers throw away their return
              codes. Whatever happened to good ol' '-1'?  At least you
              knew you had an error, without bogging the thing down in all
              that 'throw' 'catch' 'try' stuff.

Interviewer:  But, surely, inheritance does save a lot of time?

Stroustrup:   Does it?  Have you ever noticed the difference between
              a 'C' project plan, and a C++ project plan?  The planning
              stage for a C++ project is three times as long. Precisely
              to make sure that everything which should be inherited is,
              and what shouldn't isn't. Then, they still get it wrong.
              Whoever heard of memory leaks in a 'C' program?  Now finding
              them is a major industry. Most companies give up, and send
              the product out, knowing it leaks like a sieve, simply to
              avoid the expense of tracking them all down.

Interviewer:  There are tools...

Stroustrup:   Most of which were written in C++.

Interviewer:  If we publish this, you'll probably get lynched, you
              do realise that?

Stroustrup:   I doubt it. As I said, C++ is way past its peak now,
              and no company in its right mind would start a C++ project
              without a pilot trial. That should convince them that it's
              the road to disaster. If not, they deserve all they get. You
              know, I tried to convince Dennis Ritchie to rewrite Unix in C++.

Interviewer:  Oh my God. What did he say?

Stroustrup:   Well, luckily, he has a good sense of humor. I think
              both he and Brian figured out what I was doing, in the early
              days, but never let on. He said he'd help me write a C++
              version of DOS, if I was interested.

Interviewer:  Were you?

Stroustrup:   Actually, I did write DOS in C++, I'll give you a demo
              when we're through. I have it running on a Sparc 20 in the
              computer room. Goes like a rocket on 4 CPU's, and only
              takes up 70 megs of disk.

Interviewer:  What's it like on a PC?

Stroustrup:   Now you're kidding. Haven't you ever seen Windows '95?
              I think of that as my biggest success. Nearly blew the game
              before I was ready, though.

Interviewer:  You know, that idea of a Unix++ has really got me
              thinking. Somewhere out there, there's a guy going to try it.

Stroustrup:   Not after they read this interview.

Interviewer:  I'm sorry, but I don't see us being able to publish
              any of this.

Stroustrup:   But it's the story of the century. I only want to be
              remembered by my fellow programmers, for what I've done for
              them. You know how much a C++ guy can get these days?

Interviewer:  Last I heard, a really top guy is worth $70 - $80 an

Stroustrup:   See?  And I bet he earns it. Keeping track of all the
              gotchas I put into C++ is no easy job. And, as I said
              before, every C++ programmer feels bound by some mystic
              promise to use every damn element of the language on every
              project. Actually, that really annoys me sometimes, even
              though it serves my original purpose. I almost like the
              language after all this time.

Interviewer:  You mean you didn't before?

Stroustrup:   Hated it. It even looks clumsy, don't you agree?  But
              when the book royalties started to come in... well, you get
              the picture.

Interviewer:  Just a minute. What about references?  You must
              admit, you improved on 'C' pointers.

Stroustrup:   Hmm. I've always wondered about that. Originally, I
              thought I had. Then, one day I was discussing this with a
              guy who'd written C++ from the beginning. He said he could
              never remember whether his variables were referenced or
              dereferenced, so he always used pointers. He said the
              little asterisk always reminded him.

Interviewer:  Well, at this point, I usually say 'thank you very
              much' but it hardly seems adequate.

Stroustrup:   Promise me you'll publish this. My conscience is
              getting the better of me these days.

Interviewer:  I'll let you know, but I think I know what my editor
              will say.

Stroustrup:   Who'd believe it anyway?  Although, can you send me a
              copy of that tape?

Interviewer:  I can do that.