The Stories Behind The Code

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    • Navigating Corporate Giants

      Navigating Corporate Giants

      • icon Jul 04, 24
      • icon 49 min

      What if you had to fight against your company’s culture to bring a revolutionary tool to life? Meet Jeffrey Snover, the Microsoft architect behind PowerShell, a command tool that transformed Windows system administration. Initially met with skepticism, Snover’s idea faced resistance from a company that favored graphical interfaces.

      Snover’s journey began with a simple mission:... more..

    • From Burnout to Breakthrough

      From Burnout to Breakthrough

      • icon Jun 04, 24
      • icon 52 min

      Can you imagine risking your career to making coding easier to learn?

      Meet Felienne Hermans, a professor who did just that by stepping beyond academia to redefine coding education. Disillusioned by her research’s limited impact, Felienne discovered a new calling in teaching coding to underserved students. Her journey led to the creation of Hedy, a... more..

    • Coding Machines

      Coding Machines

      • icon May 03, 24
      • icon 48 min

      What if the tools you trust were actually betraying you? Join us for a riveting story where a team of software developers discovers that their compiler is compromised. What starts as suspicion of a simple bug quickly escalates into the alarming realization.

      In this 100th episode celebration past show regulars Don and Krystal join Adam... more..

    • Code, Kickflips and Crunch Time

      Code, Kickflips and Crunch Time

      • icon Apr 02, 24
      • icon 57 min

      Meet Mick West, whose career began in an unusual office setup — sandwiched between a kebab shop and a phone sex hotline. From there he worked all over Manchester, making computer games for Tiertex and Ocean.

      Career opportunies brought him to California and to his own game dev company, Neversoft. At Neversoft, navigating team growth... more..

    • Leaving LinkedIn

      Leaving LinkedIn

      • icon Mar 04, 24
      • icon 47 min

      What if your dedication to doing things right clashed with your company’s fast pace? Chris Krycho faced this very question at LinkedIn.

      His journey was marked by challenges: from the nuances of remote work to the struggle of influencing company culture, and a critical incident that put his principles to the test against the company’s... more..

    • Beautiful Code

      Beautiful Code

      • icon Feb 02, 24
      • icon 57 min

      Have you ever felt like your code could be more than just functional, that it could be beautiful?

      Greg Wilson didn’t just ponder this; he embarked on a quest to elevate software design to an art form. From a soldering iron burn that steered him away from electrical engineering to his crusade for a shared... more..


    • From Project Management to Data Compression Innovator

      From Project Management to Data Compression Innovator

      • icon May 02, 23
      • icon 59 min

      How do you accomplish something massive over time? I’ve had the chance to meet with a number of exceptional software developers and it’s something I always wonder about.

      Today, I might have an answer with the incredible story of Yann Collet.

      Yann was a project manager who went from being burnt out on corporate life... more..

    • Shipping Graphing Calculator

      Shipping Graphing Calculator

      • icon Feb 02, 23
      • icon 46 min

      I’ve been on many projects that get canceled. We’re building cool stuff. We’re going above and beyond, and we’re excited. But the project encounters reality, shifting priorities, or budgeting constraints, and the work never goes anywhere. It always feels tragic, but then I move on.

      But what if I didn’t let a project get canceled?... more..

    • From Prison To Programming

      From Prison To Programming

      • icon Sep 02, 22
      • icon 46 min

      I believe that getting underrepresented groups into software development is a good thing. This is not a controversial opinion until you start talking about felons.

      Today’s guest is Rick Wolter. He’s an iOS developer who served 18 years in prison for second degree murder. Rick killed somebody and for some that’s all they need to... more..

    • The History and Mystery Of Eliza

      The History and Mystery Of Eliza

      • icon Jul 05, 22
      • icon 44 min

      I recently got an email from Jeff Shrager, who said he’d been working hard to solve a mystery about some famous code.

      Eliza, the chatbot, was built in 1964, and she didn’t answer questions like Alexa or Siri. She asked questions. She was a therapist chatbot and quickly became famous after being described in a... more..

    • The Untold Story of SQLite

      The Untold Story of SQLite

      • icon Jul 02, 21
      • icon 38 min

      On today’s show, I’m talking to Richard Hipp about surviving becoming core infrastructure for the world. SQLite is everywhere. It’s in your web browser, it’s in your phone, it’s probably in your car, and it’s definitely in commercial planes. It’s where your iMessages and WhatsApp messages are stored, and if you do a find on... more..

    • Software That Doesn't Suck

      Software That Doesn't Suck

      • icon Jul 01, 20
      • icon 37 min

      Software is just the tool and it should get out of your way. In this episode, Jim discusses how to build a great developer tool. It all started with: “What’s the worst software that you use every day?” and led to the creation of Subversion.

    • Apple 2001

      Apple 2001

      • icon Apr 03, 21
      • icon 48 min

      David Shayer worked at Apple for 14 years, and he has a wild experience to share. Apple has a unique culture, and David will give us an insider view of what it was like for him at Apple during the 2000s, roughly between 2001 to 2015 when Apple transformed into the powerhouse that it is... more..

    • Video Game Programming From Scratch

      Video Game Programming From Scratch

      • icon Mar 01, 21
      • icon 41 min

      I’m not really a big gamer, but lately, I’ve fallen down this rabbit hole into the world of Casey Muratori, and this project that he started on Twitch in 2014. He is building a video game from scratch and explaining it all as he goes along.

      Casey is a professional video game and game engine,... more..

    • The Birth of UNIX

      The Birth of UNIX

      • icon Nov 01, 20
      • icon 51 min

      When you work on your computer, there are so many things you take for granted: operating systems, programming languages, they all have to come from somewhere.

      In the late 1960s and 1970s, that somewhere was Bell Labs, and the operating system they were building was UNIX.

      They were building more than just an operating system... more..

    • We're Teaching Functional Programming Wrong

      We're Teaching Functional Programming Wrong

      • icon Aug 03, 20
      • icon 46 min

      Today Richard Feldman shares his story of going from javascript developer to elm developer to functional programming teacher.

      Along the way, Richard finds that people are teaching functional programming wrong. We are teaching it in a way that misses how most industrial software engineers learn best.

      Richard also delves into Elm, his approach, and how... more..

    • Memento Mori

      Memento Mori

      • icon Sep 01, 20
      • icon 40 min

      Preparing our minds for the inevitable is hard. But, after facing terminal cancer, Kate Gregory recalled that facing death has many lessons to teach us.

      In this episode,  Kate will share the lessons she learned and explain how you can apply them to your career as a software developer and live a remarkable life.

    • JSON vs XML

      JSON vs XML

      • icon Apr 03, 23
      • icon 49 min

      Today’s guest is Douglas Crockford. He’s sharing the story of JSON, his discovery of JavaScript’s good parts, and his approach to finding a simple way to build software. Also, his battles against XML, against complexity, his battles to say that there’s a better way to build software.

      This is foundational stuff for the web, and... more..

    • Platform Takes The Pain

      Platform Takes The Pain

      • icon Nov 02, 23
      • icon 48 min

      How did Spotify scale from 10 engineers to 100s to 1000s …without slowing down? Without becoming corporate?

      Facing an IPO deadline, Pia Nilsson worked with 300 teams to transform how Spotify built software. She spearheaded a movement that led them from working in silos to a unified developer platform.

      Hear the inside story of how... more..

    Best Episodes


    • CPAN


      • icon Aug 01, 22
      • icon 56 min

      CPAN was the first open-source software module repository. And on this day, Aug 1st, in 1995, CPAN was first announced to a private group of PERL users.

      And why does this matter? Who is still using PERL anyhow? CPAN inspired everything that would follow: npm, maven, cargo, nuget, hackage, ruby gems, python pypi and so... more..

    • Why still 80 columns?

      Why still 80 columns?

      • icon Jun 01, 22
      • icon 39 min

      On June 1st, 2014, the following question showed up on hacker news:

      Why is 80 characters, the standard limit for code width. Why 80?

      Why not? 79 or 81 or even a hundred.

      So you probably know what happens next. People started to post their opinions and the comments and other people started... more..

    • April Fools' Is Cancelled (2014)

      April Fools' Is Cancelled (2014)

      • icon Apr 01, 22
      • icon 38 min

      On this day in 2014, “lame april fools’ jokes” were banned from hacker news.

      Today in our first This-Day-in-History segment, I want to share some of history not just of April Fools’, but of tech pranks in general, all leading up to 2014.

      Why were pranks and April Fools’ jokes traditionally celebrated in tech? Why... more..

    • The Internet Is Made of Duct Tape

      The Internet Is Made of Duct Tape

      • icon Jan 02, 22
      • icon 42 min

      Today, I have two of my favorite guests together: Krystal Maughan and Don McKay. We are going to be sharing strange and interesting facts about computing.

      I’m super pumped about this because, sometimes, I learn something new, and I’m excited about it. And I want to tell people about it. And so today is a... more..

    • Quines, Polyglot Code and Other Fun Computations

      Quines, Polyglot Code and Other Fun Computations

      • icon Sep 02, 21
      • icon 61 min

      Today, previous guest and my neighbor Don Mckay and I will discuss items from the endless fascinating Cursed Computer Iceberg Meme. The Iceberg is a giant list of “the peculiarities and weirdness of computers.”

      We each a select few items from the list and alternate explaining it to each other. Don’s choices are varied,... more..


    • Language Oriented Design

      Language Oriented Design

      • icon Oct 01, 19
      • icon 56 min

      Adam talks to Hal Abelson about the textbook he coauthored in 1985, The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs and why it is still popular and influential today.

    • Software That Doesn't Suck

      Software That Doesn't Suck

      • icon Jul 01, 20
      • icon 37 min

      Software is just the tool and it should get out of your way. In this episode, Jim discusses how to build a great developer tool. It all started with: “What’s the worst software that you use every day?” and led to the creation of Subversion.

    • Reinforcement Learning At Facebook

      Reinforcement Learning At Facebook

      • icon Feb 01, 21
      • icon 38 min

      If you ever wanted to learn about machine learning you could do worse than have Jason Gauci teach you. Jason has worked on YouTube recommendations. He was an early contributor to TensorFlow the open-source machine learning platform. His thesis work was cited by DeepMind.

      But what I find so fascinating with Jason is he recognized... more..

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    What Listeners Think

    Karl Fogel Karl Fogel *
    The consistently best podcast I listen to is CoRecursive Podcast with Adam Gordon Bell. So far, every single episode I've heard has been excellent: engaging, informative, sometimes provocative, always well-produced. He chooses good guests and draws the best out of them!
    Chris Krycho Chris Krycho *
    I’ve really, really been enjoying @adamgbell’s @corecursive podcast – solid and informative interviews on interesting topics in programming ...
    Ankush Thakur Ankush Thakur *
    I'd describe CoRecrusive as different, exotic, sublime, serious, or some such combination. Yes, it's about software development and software development only, but it digs underneath until the very foundations are exposed. And when an episode is not on technical details, it's on ideas and themes that are mind-blowing and unseen anywhere else.
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    Navigating Corporate Giants