It Works on My Machine

Soon after the extinction of punch cards, when programming became a task one could do using a personal computer, a new natural phenomenon was discovered. It seemed like software has a tendency to behave differently when executed on different machines. What seemed like an arbitrary behavior at first was then found out to be consistent although unpredicted phenomenon.

In 1992, a young scientist from MIT discovered that software almost always worked as expected on the machine of the developer who wrote it, but often behaved entirely different on any other machine. It was also revealed that machines used for QC were more exposed to this anomaly. He named this phenomenon WoM2.

Since then, the phrase “It works on my machine? is used in almost every conversation between a software developer and a tester. When you think of it, this is quite remarkable. No other law of nature is so widely used in daily conversations. Statistics shows that for every person mentioning Gravity in a casual conversation, there are 23.2 software developers reminding their fellow tester there are some mysterious forces in nature we are still not able to understand.

The scope of this phenomenon became so wide spread that in 2002 an entrepreneur no one has heard of before came up with the idea to deliver hand-made personally customized software. According to his calculations, it would have been more cost effective to write software directly on the customer’s PC, assuming it will obey the WoM2 law. Surprisingly, this idea was not that farfetched, and he spent the next year writing the same Web Browser for three different private customers on their home machines.

In 2003, a gigantic software company started to feel threatened by this new concept, so it gently offered the successful developer 10,000 stock options and a distinguish architect position if he would shut down his successful business. After two months of considering the offer, he decided to accept it. Some people claim that the real reason behind this strange decision had something to do with the fact that about the same time he was asked by his grandfather to write his successful Web Browser on an old PC running Windows® 3.11. No one has ever heard about him since.


One Response to “It Works on My Machine”

  1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Software Development » Blog Archive » Write Once, Run Anywhere Says:

    […] Of course, at the time, the WoM2 phenomenon was just discovered at MIT, so the marketing people responsible for this phrase probably were not aware of the fact that this is inherently impossible, because it contradicts what will soon become the most famous law of nature. […]

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