Software and Mind  by Andrei Sorin — related articles

A brief autobiography

This is a brief description of my professional background and how my experience and research led to writing Software and Mind. (The book can be downloaded free at

I was born in Bucharest, Romania, and when I was 13 I moved to Israel. In 1962-66 I attended the technical high school Bosmat in Haifa, where I studied electronics. I continued in 1966-70 at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, where I received a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering. By then I had enough experience with computer electronics and software to realize that my aptitude and temperament were better suited to a career in software. So, while teaching electronics at a local college, I studied in the Technion’s Department of Computer Science, and I received an M.Sc. in 1971.

In 1971-76 I lived in London, U.K. After briefly working at the University of London’s Institute of Computer Science, I started to do freelance programming. This acquainted me with many different types of computers, systems, and applications. One assignment was in France. The best part was that I could work only as much as I wanted, which allowed me to pursue my research projects at the University of London. In 1975 I received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Imperial College.

In 1976 I moved to Canada, and I have lived in Toronto ever since. I worked briefly at Geac, and then I started my own company, Andsor Research Inc., a one-man company through which I could work as an independent consultant in software development, support, and research. Dealing directly with the users, I created and maintained original applications on minicomputers in manufacturing, utilities, retail, distribution, and publishing. My usual approach was to create a fully customized system that integrated all the customer’s software needs, and to develop a long-term relationship by keeping it up to date: I implemented the endless enhancements and changes constantly needed in a business environment. The longest relationship lasted 31 years.

And yet, all this took only a small part of my time. Most of my work was in R&D: studying the human and software aspects of application development and maintenance, and establishing when it is and when it is not possible to improve matters through theories, methodologies, or development systems. I discovered that most of these concepts are useless, and what is needed is simply programming expertise. At the same time, I developed some programming tools to implement various ideas in data management: editors, interpreters, and some versatile means to handle complex, interrelated text and data files. I used these tools in my own work, and in 1986-92 I sold some versions to others. I found out, however, that most programmers prefer tools that merely conform to the latest software fads, so I discontinued my marketing activities. In any case, I know now, it is best for programmers to create their own tools, and to rely only occasionally on generic ones.

I started to work on my book, Software and Mind, in 1993. At first, my intent was simply to explain what I had discovered through practice; namely, that one experienced programmer can create better applications and provide better service than whole teams that depend on theories, methodologies, and development systems. But then I realized that I could do better: I could actually prove this claim, and thereby prove that the concepts promoted by the software elites are fraudulent. Moreover, since the software elites are also promoting these concepts in other occupations, I could prove that the prevention of expertise and the consequent degradation of minds are spreading throughout society. These proofs, however, were possible only by turning to additional fields of knowledge: the philosophies of science, of mind, and of language, the history of our mechanistic culture, and even anthropology and political philosophy. This explains why the book took so long to complete, and why it grew to more than 900 pages.

A note on the book’s production. Its relatively high price is due, not just to its size, but also to superior qualities, rarely seen today: some of the best paper available, Smyth-sewn binding, and real cloth cover. (The digital book, however, is free; it can be downloaded at Another point, of interest in view of the millions of people who use commercial desktop publishing systems: none of these systems could provide the quality of design and typesetting that I demanded for my book, so I developed my own software for these tasks.

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