256 Day: Programmer's Day 2019

День программиста 2019

Traditionally, on 256th day of each year, grateful humanity appreciates the programmers. It's funny that this year we are celebrating 256 Day on Friday, the 13th :)

A programmer is a demiurge profession

Source code writing is not a job, and even not an art — it looks like an Act of Creation. Suddenly, we find out that we live in a world created by programmers.

It is not a metaphor. All of the equipment that we use, both industrial and domestic, work due to specific programs. Who creates the software? Right, programmers do. These professionals are also called coders — the persons who write source code in one of the many programming languages. Climatic equipment that purifies, and warms, and cools the air we breathe; the machinery of pumping stations that supply water to our homes — use a software. Programs of construction equipment — also created by professionals of coding.

The Internet where we live, or work, or just spend time, is also a product of the work of programmers. Digital television, film production, music, entertainment, and games industry are also built on the results of coders. A car on-board computer and a GPS map in your smartphone, an automatic validator of travel documents in transport, navigation equipment, meteorological satellites, and logistics systems - all they also work managed by programs that someone once has created. Operating systems, email programs, and cloud platforms consist of a software code too.

BTW, the software that is used for creating infrastructure solutions can be the most diverse. In the article Happy Birthday, Dear Linux, we talk about the open code movement and what role the once amateur development of a young programmer played in it.

Thirty years ago, the programmer as an occupation was not yet so popular. Although the first attempts of software code development date back to the first half of the XIX century, the real heyday of the coding era came closer to the Millennium. Around the mid-1980s, the basics of programming began to be introduced into the school curriculum, and this fact fundamentally changed the society opinion about programmers. Programming at least has become a fashionable, promising, prestigious profession. Former nerds transformed into trendsetters and men any girl would marry. The world has changed.

As any occupation, the programming has traditions, attribution, and professional slang. All that was lacking was a real professional holiday.

Programmer's Day: the History

For a long time, the world was not puzzled by the question of which day to appoint so that coders could give a toast to the honor of their chosen profession. Therefore, everyone celebrated when he considered it necessary, sometimes every day. Due to it, sprang up the urban legends about bearded and not too well-groomed hombre who cannot live a day without beer, but can create a divine program code.

There were suggestions to celebrate the Day of the coding professionals on:

  • December 10th, the birthday of Byron’s daughter Ada King Byron, Countess of Lovelace, the legendary woman. She’s famous for cutting-edge mathematical research and visionary commentary on the work of Charles Babbage, who designed the first computer. Ada is considered the author of the first-ever program; one of the programming languages was named in her honor;
  • February 14th (in some places – 15th), the day when the great-grandfather of modern laptops ENIAC was presented to the public;
  • April 4th, the International Day of Webmasters and the World Day of the Internet (the 404 Day);
  • May 17th, the International Information Day;
  • November 30th, the International Day of Information Security.

However, programmers felt some sad – seems, various dates for any taste but still not the one. It would be necessary to establish the programmer's professional holiday.

The humanity thought about the choice of the date to celebrate the Coders’ Day for a long time. And in 2002, two Russian webmasters (the webmaster is also an encoder!) proposed their solution to the problem: let’s celebrate the Programmer's Day for 256 days of the year. Soon the initiative was addressed to the Russian government level. And the news spread across the Global Internet: we celebrate, beloved brothers and sisters in Code, every year on the 256th day. So we celebrate the Programmer's Day, or 256 Day, on September 13 in ordinary years and September 12 in the leap year. The holiday is informal in most of the world, it is a state holiday only in Russia since 2009. But the real Code Creators and their sympathizers are not embarrassed by the informal status. The main thing is that the tradition is born, and we just follow it.

Why exactly was 256th day chosen?

The answer is – it's a pure programmer fun, and it is multi-version in addition. First, 256 is 2 raised to the power of 8. Since the choice of a possible day was limited to 366 days (if you take a leap year, when the number of days is 1 more than the common one), eight is the maximum power of 2, which result is not exceeding 366. Second, 256 can be represented as 28, where 2 is the symbol of the binary code that underlies many programming languages, and 8 is the symbol of the number of bits, the minimum unit of information, in a Byte (1 Byte = 8 bit). By the way, in binary representation, the number 256 will look like 1000000002. Third, 256 is the limited number of values ​​that can be encoded with 8-bit encoding.

In general, eight is a sacred number in programming and information technology, especially for people from the 1980s. All the games, graphics, and media files were 8-bit in these days. Nowadays it has the name of 8-bit Culture, of 8-bit Aesthetic, and get a second life in the 2010s. As people say, the first Apple computer, which Steve Wozniak created in the late 1970s, was also 8-bit. It was an amusing time, and the indirect reference to that period, built-in the date of the Day of Programmers, is clear.

So, we chose the 256th day of the year. And together we celebrate it once every four years, if it is a leap year, on August 12, and the rest of the time on August 13. In 2019, the holiday very successfully falls on Friday. So we also have a landmark Friday the 13th for many :) But we are far from superstitions, and we will celebrate in a friendly company of programmers around the world.

However, the holiday’s scale is not really global. Because China – as in many other things — has a special opinion about the date of the Programmer's Day. In China, people celebrate the Day of Programmers on October 24th. This choice is also justified from the point of view of programming: the date 1024 - this is 2 (again, the binary number system!) raised to the power of 10. And that there are 1024 bytes in 1 KB, 1024 KB in 1 MB and so on - everyone knows. So, Chinese Programmer's Day has every right to be an occasion for the holiday no less than the Chinese New Year, which many Europeans and people from other continents would like to celebrate, too.

Programmer's Day: Traditions

It is clear that no business nowadays can do without computer programs. Documents, correspondence, presentations, the design of a wide variety of graphics for various purposes, accounting and management, CRM systems, Internet communications, analysis and data processing - dozens of applications, and programs, and operating systems are used in each company.

Read, please, our article Clouds save lives and restore health and learn the way to use cloud technologies in medicine, healthcare, and biology science researches.

So it means that the work of programmers is always needed and very valuable. It does not matter where and how the programmer works - at dedicated servers in a company, on a VDS rented for own projects, or in the remote office of an international team deployed in the cloud. One thing is essential that the results of the programmers’ work make our life more comfortable, easier and more beautiful. From a set of numbers, characters, and symbols, this magic wizard creates new entities and thereby changes the world. And on the Day of the Programmer it is worth expressing our appreciation for the miracles that he does for all of us.

Each holiday certainly has traditions. But this does not apply to IT holidays. The rules do not prescribe what to give programmers what to pamper their aesthetic taste – flowers, pictures, letters of appreciation and orders, banknotes of various denominations, etc. Therefore, our advice is to improvise, but in moderation: first, you should find out what is most liking of your fellow or colleague who devoted his life to creating program code.

The only 256 Day tradition that you must follow is to remember to congratulate all the programmers you know on their professional holiday annually on September 13 (and on a leap year on the 12th). Such a recursion ;)

Happy 256 Day, dear Programmers!

Author: Alisa Kandieieva

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