Eisenstadt/Bonar $1000 end-user-programming bet!!

SUMMARY: 1985-1995 $1000 bet predicted scarcity of end-user-programming


Though the subject line may cause your spam-filters to throw out this email, I just wanted to raise an old issue.

At the 1985 Empirical Studies of Programmers conference I made a public bet with Jeffrey Bonar, witnessed by Thomas Green, Elliott Soloway and others, arguing that end-user-programming would *NOT* be nearly as pervasive as most of the attendees seemed to believe. I argued that LESS THAN 20% of a sample of 'professional' citizens (doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc.) would routinely be undertaking what we would call 'programming' (formally defined in the bet as requiring the use of variables, conditionals, and flow of control) as part of their professional lives even TEN YEARS from the time of the bet (i.e in 1995). Thomas Green agreed to be the judge, and the bet was agreed to be $1000.

In my recollection, this was considered by most attendees to be somewhat rash on my part-- Logo was in the ascendancy, and programming was something people (especially professionals) not only needed to know, but it was getting easier and more pervasive all the time.

In my opinion, I won easily (though I'm happy for Thomas to chime in with a comment about this). I'd be wondering if PPIG-ers out there would like to comment on

a) the bet itself (we can dig up the formal wording, if you like)

b) the whereabouts of Jeffrey Bonar (sorry, Jeff: I could have just looked you up with a search engine, but I'm actually interested in the community commentary)

c) what we should do with the money? (some kind of prize fund would be fine; I don't personally want the dough, nor do I want to inflict a 1K fine on Jeff, but where I come from this is nevertheless a serious business!).

Any comments on the bet? Email the ppig discussion group.