Ryan Tomayko

Aspiring Indie Developer.
Follow me on Twitter & GitHub.

Here's a Nickel, Kid

The Dilbert strip referenced in Neil Stephenson’s In The Beginning Was The Command Line:

Here's a Nickel, kid

Huge thanks to Mike Taylor for the original scan and to quickpost for the pointer.

There’s a lively discussion of the section titled, The Hole Hawg of Operating Systems, on reddit.

This strip ran on 06/24/1995 – more than 11 years ago. It is still timely and relevant, although for reasons different from 1995.

It is featured on the front of Advanced Programming in the UNIX(R) Environment (Addison-Wesley Professional Computing Series):

Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment

Stephenson actually mis-describes the strip in the essay:

(2) a copy of a Dilbert cartoon in which Dilbert, the long-suffering corporate software engineer, encounters a portly, bearded, hairy man of a certain age–a bit like Santa Claus, but darker, with a certain edge about him. Dilbert recognizes this man, based upon his appearance and affect, as a Unix hacker, and reacts with a certain mixture of nervousness, awe, and hostility. Dilbert jabs weakly at the disturbing interloper for a couple of frames; the Unix hacker listens with a kind of infuriating, beatific calm, then, in the last frame, reaches into his pocket. “Here’s a nickel, kid,” he says, “go buy yourself a real computer.”

It was not the Dilbert character but Wally that had the encounter with the Unix hacker. The hacker quotation is also inaccurate but perhaps better than the original.

Dilbert is by Scott Adams and runs daily on the web and in 2500 newspapers worldwide in 65 countries and 19 languages with over 150 million fans.