History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.

—James Joyce

Four decades ago a program of a million lines was regarded as huge, reserved for only the most massive mainframe systems in the bowels of the Department of Defense (DoD1). It was routinely estimated that to build such programs would require 1,000 engineers working for a decade. Today most of the applications on a PC are well over a million lines, and many are in the 10 million range. Moreover, they are expected to be built in a couple of years or less. So programs are growing ever larger while clients expect them to be developed with less effort.

In today’s high-tech society rapid obsolescence is routine, and the economic model of the firm emphasizes growth ...

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